General Cycling Discussion - New rider with a lot of questions...
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... some of which I'll ask later as they reoccur to me. :)
My nine-year-old son learned to ride a bike in June, so I went out and bought us a couple o' new bikes, Giant Sedonas (an ST for him, 17", and a regular ol' Sedona women's, 19", for me -- my first new bike ever). I did no research whatsoever, just walked in and placed our biking fate in the hands of the guy there.
The LBS changed the seat on my Sedona to a Cloud-9 made by Pyramid. Other than that, everything is standard issue.
The LBS probably figured me for a "twice-around-the-block" kind of rider; that's certainly what I look like, being a standard issue wide-butt. Sportswoman I'm not, out of shape and overweight I am. At 5'10", somewhat tall for a woman.
But we ride, aiming for 30-50 miles a week. Our short rides are about 8 miles, our longer rides together about 12, and my ride yesterday, alone, was 34. I know that's not a lot compared to people who really RIDE, but it was a long time on the trails for me (I ride pretty slowly).
(Long intro... sorry!)
1.) What should I have expected from the LBS in the way of fitting the bike to me? And what should I go back and demand in way of fitting?
(My tailbone hurts. My knees, especially the area right above the knees, hurt. My thighs do not hurt, and shouldn't thighs be a little sore when a couch potato rides 30+ miles? I have some numb fingers -- ring and pinkie, especially on my right hand -- that may or may not be from bike riding. It's worse after riding, but I think nerves are being compressed by un-bike related activity.)
2.) Is it really so bad to ride in normal clothes?
(I ride in cotton shorts -- just regular ol' shorts of different kinds -- and a cotton tee-shirt. I had a bit of chafing after a 28-mile ride, but suspect that was from [sorry, gents] a panty-liner. I didn't wear one yesterday and did not have the same chafing problem.)
3.) Why wouldn't someone accept my offer of patch kit and tools? This might be a rhetorical question...
(In my ride yesterday, I came across a gent with a flat; he didn't have tools with him because he had his baby girl in a seat on the back, and he takes them off when he has her along. He used my cell phone to call his wife, hoping she'd come pick the two of them up, but alas. I offered my patch kit and tools, but he said he'd walk. It didn't occur to me to offer him the CO2 pump, just to get some air in the tire so the rim wouldn't be ruined, nor did it occur to me until later to tell him that my watching him patch his tire would be good for me, as, though I have the tools and all, I don't know how to use them. I felt really awful leaving him there to carry the baby with one arm and wheel the bike with the other, several miles home.)
4.) What's a reasonable distance for a couch-potato-y nine-year-old to ride?
(He needs more exercise. He's fine with 10-12 mile rides, though is flagging a bit at the end, riding even more slowly than our normally slow pace. He tells me he'd like to train for a century ride -- clearly his competitive nature talking! But at what age is a century ride feasible for one's Owlet?)
5.) Why the heck doesn't the women's Sedona have holes for a water cage or two?! (Rhetorical...)
(I have one Cannondale velcro water bottle on my boke. My tall child has two water cages on his bike. I could use another, though found yesterday that keeping a water bottle in a fanny pack worked really well; still had ice in it when I needed to pull it out. Still, would rather have water on the bike than strapped around my waist.)
I don't have tons o' spare cash to put immediately into biking stuff. I've been adding gear, etc., slowly (with each paycheck...); any additional stuff I have to prioritize.
Thanks in advance!
09-07-03, 10:48 AM
Congrats on your new sport! :D Here's my take on your questions:
1. If your bike shop has fairly experienced employees, they should be able watch you ride the bike and then make suggestions on your posture, and make small changes to the bikes set-up. It helps to be able to tell them excactly what hurts and when. Probably some aches and pains occur becuase of bad set-up, and some occur because you are a new rider and have to get your body used to riding. I'm no expert in fitting, but I believe your weight should be mostly placed on your butt, not on your hands. Back should be slightly arched, but not hunched over... The LBS should be able to help with this. If the first shop doesn't want to help you, go somewhere else.
2. You don't have to dress like a cycling addict to ride like one, at least not at first. The advanteged of bike specific clothes include improved fit and comfort, improved breathability, and in some cases the addition of gel padding, such as a pad in the butt, and padding in the gloves. The padding really can help, especially with your butt and tingly hands.
3. LOL, I bet either 1. he didn't know how to patch a tire, or 2. he felt foolish for not bringing his.
4. Hmm, couldn't tell ya. My parents would take us on 10-20 mile rides when my brother and I had BMX bikes at that age. We would start in the early morning, ride on the "W&OD" trail for about 10 miles. The McDonalds was our breakfast stop and turn around point. haha, what memories.
5. Consider a hydration pack? which can also hold other stuff. $20-70 online.
Ok, just my 2 cents. Welcome back to cycling. I'm sure you and you son will enjoy it.
09-07-03, 11:05 AM
I would say the LBS would be more than happy to help you fine-tune your fit, and if you explain the exact same symptoms to them as you did to us should have no problem with their diagnosis. Knees will be sore to some extent even if your bike is adjusted right until you build some of the supporting muscles, BUT an ill-fitting bike will compound the problem.
When it comes to clothes, wear what you are comfortable with and forget what anybody thinks. I HAVE to wear cycle shorts, even though I have a diminishing couch-potato physique. I may not look like a pro, but I am comfortable and could care less what others think. I am in it to please me and not other people or their fashion sense.
As for riding with kids, I have never considered it bad, and look forward to riding with mine, one is 9 and one is 12. Younger one just learned to ride beginning of July. He is slower than molasses but I use the time to ride harder rings and build some strength or easier rings to build some cadence. Even riding slow with him I can turn into a work out. Both of my kids as well as my-self were couch potatos. I have lost 40 pounds in the past couple months and will hit 1000 miles in the next week or so. The 9 year old has been gradually building up his miles and can do almost 20 now with out too much "complaining". Friday night we did a round trip night ride of 15 miles, and because of the "perception" of riding in the dark it was over before he knew it, and could have done more without a problem. I have learned to watch him and can sense when things are slowing down and he is wearing out. To me it is VERY important to invest the time with both of them so they know how to ride, especially on busy trails. They are learning traffic rules and basic human decency that seems to be very lacking in a lot of folks these days.
We occassionally ride the streets together, the 12 year old is much safer and has more confidence, but I am still carefull in choosing the time and the place with both of them for street riding. We do the developments without too much traffic although we stop and cross a couple of major busy streets. A lot of time we will venture off the trails on to back country roads, but again with caution. They aren't going to learn until they are exposed, and they aren't exposed unless under my scrutiny.
Give the youngest rider the control, allow them to choose the ride route from a list of suggested alternatives provided by you. When riding make sure they know that as far as you go out, you will have to do the same to return. If they over-stretch, make sure they understand they chose the route and continued riding knowing full well they had to return. Make them responsible for their decisions. Ride at their pace, and use the time as constructively as possible.
Than in the end if you are like me, look forward to the solo-untethered rides where you can let loose and fly.
One thing I have found is a lot of people, especially with children can be very cautious in their dealing with "strangers" on the trails. If you ask my opinion, the guy had no business being on the trail especially with a child, if he didn't have the where-with-all to make a minor repair. My kids have a spare tube and patch kits in each of their bike bags, and I always have the tools and the pump. I take more precautions when riding with my kids than I would if riding solo. We can only teach them advocacy, safety and responsibility by example. I always offer assistance and if someone passes, I go on my merry way!
And let me just add if I had only $1.00 for everytime I have said stay to the right, or stay on your side, to my own kids, I would be driving a Rolls-Royce by now, but at least I know I haven't subjected innocent strangers to my kids!!
09-07-03, 12:00 PM
Just because I am a nosy person, where did you buy your bikes?
Thanks! It never occurred to me that the guy might not know how to fix a flat, and that part of your post made me lol! (Still giggling, in fact!) He looked like a pretty confirmed biker-type, and I'd hope that anyone with a baby on board would be a way experienced rider. I would never ever consider riding with a kid on my bike, but hey, I'm extra cautious about such things.
I rode today and then dropped my bike off at the store to be checked over. The guy there -- the owner, I think, an older gent -- gave me about 2 minutes of his time, having me sit on the bike. Will try again when I pick the bike up on Tuesday. (Gears -- or whatever they are; I don't know bike terminology, either! -- are noisy, moving from... well, never mind! Some adjustment needs to be made and my seat pointed down just a hair, for sure.)
Glad to hear about the clothes. Me in biker shorts.... oh, I don't care what I look like, but that would be unkind to the rest of the people on the trail! I doubt they come in my (gargantuan) size, anyway.
The W&OD, hmmm? So you're from the DC area. I haven't done that trail yet; I've been sticking to those on the Maryland side so far. I like minimum and easy road crossings, especially when I'm with my Owlet.
Thanks, and I hope I didn't leave the impression that I don't like riding with my son! I quite like it, even though it's slow going. He knows I need to build speed, so when I ask for a sprint, he gives it to me, and man, can he take off! I have a tough time keeping up, even though I ride much more than he does. (I have a 9-year-old for my personal trainer. :) )
Watching him grow these past couple of months in ability and confidence has been great. He didn't especially like calling out, "To your left!" as we set to pass people -- he'd scream it and it came out sounding really rude -- so I got him a bell and he's great about using that. (He has a pervasive development disorder, and not being good at dealing with people, especially strangers, is part of it. The bell's a better warning method for all concerned!) Things that used to rattle him on the path, people coming toward him, or kids and dogs on the trail, he can now handle with aplomb.
He has a bike computer on his bike (part of my scheme to keep him interested -- I'll get one someday, too), so is in charge of tracking our mileage and time, and he takes that pretty seriously. Plus, he has a good time doing it.
He has an underseat bag that has a spare tube, patch kit, and tire levers in it in case he has occasion to ride the Giant with his dad. I gave his dad a frame pump, patch kit, and tire levers for when the two of them ride together (the Owlet has a bike at his dad's, too).
I'm with you on the Rolls-Royce accounting! I have the same refrain when riding with tot and especially when I've got tot and one of his friends out on the trail. They are both great about calling out for "Mama Duck" to shepherd the "ducklings" across the road crossings; I always ride behind kid(s) except when it's time to cross something car-accessible.
Wheaton Cycles in Wheaton, MD. I went there because that's where the tot's first bike came from a couple of years ago. (That bike was at his dad's, and it wasn't until this June he learned to ride it; I strongly suggested to his dad that it was about time the kid learned to ride without training wheels, and that worked!)
Other than that and this summer's dealings with the store, I have no previous experience with that store.
09-07-03, 05:28 PM
Nah, you didn't give me the impression you didn't like it and KUDOs on the bell. Got them for my kids too, and it's great just to say HI to folks passing the other way. I ring mine when I have passed the kids and they ring their's back so I know they are behind me somewhere and OK. It's become an unspoken trail language between the three of us.
It seems to be more of a tradition on the trails around here to give a ding or a ring on the bell as a greeting as opposed to a nod of the head or a wave with the fingers. A nice tradition.
Love the mama duck analogy, even though I'm the pappa!! Today at one of our crossings a police officer (on bike) pulled up next to us at the intersection and commented on how nice the boys looked with their helmets on, and how pleased he was to see us stopped at the stop sign instead of pausing and passing through!! It's nice to have others reinforce their good habits and the volunteers and officers around here ALWAYS make a point of commenting on the helmets!!
Seems like you are on the same track as me and perhaps we are both doing something right!!
Lil' guy did 22 miles with us today, it was kinda rough the trail was uphill all the way out and thankfully downhill on the way back. I thought he was going to give up but he just kept heading up the hill. (180 feet in about 8 miles) not a steep hill, but enough of a hill to keep him pumping the whole time!! He managed to hit 20 mph on the way back down so he was elated, and forgot about his aching nether regions!! TEE HEE
Wow, 22 miles; that's great! And uphill for a good bit to boot. Guess I'll stop feeling like I'm pushing my kid now! :) Kudos to your lil' guy!
(I don't know that I could have ridden that trail! The ones I ride are pretty flat.)
Good idea, the bell ringing language. I don't have a bell but will get one, and will make sure to get one for the kid that rides with us, too.
I'm amazed at how many kids I see riding without helmets. (Maryland law requires helmets for kids.) I'm also amazed at the number of adults who don't wear them... including my ex!
Well here is my take on your original questions
1) Fit - well from the sounds of it, you bike must fit about right. You don't seem to have reaching problems (the common complaint in a bad fit).
The sore tailbone could be either an overly upright posture or a bad fit on the saddle or just something that will go away with toughening. The overly upright posture could be handled by either going down to the drops our out to the hoods if you haven't already. Or in a more extreme case, getting a longer stem.
Pain above the knees. This can happen when one's seat is a bit too low. If you fool with seat height, change it by nearly invisible increments. It is amazing how much difference a 1/8 of an inch or a few millimeters makes. Another thing that can cause pain in the knees like this is riding a low cadence and too big of a gear. The thing to do is ride lower gears and a higher cadence.
Fingers - numb hands and fingers are a nealy universal complaint in cyclists. Get gloves, they will make a big difference. You also might think of getting a padded tape on your handlebars. Another thing you can do is change hand positions on you handlebars frequently, I am assuming you have drop handlebars which have many positions.
Thighs - actually one's thighs seldom hurt after a ride unless you really get up to your anaerobic threshold. Bicycling is a high rep and low intensity sort of thing on a routine basis and that usually does not make your legs really sore. Also since most people walk some (if only to the refridgerator), even if they are out of shape, their leg muscles usually have some tone.
2) Clothes - well cycling clothes are not necessary. If you go for them get them in this order: Helmet - I figure you already have this one but if you don't I would strongly advise it. Taking a header can happen and a helmet gives reasonably good protection. Shorts - the bike shorts are the most comfortable on longer rides. Shoes and clipless pedals - again the most comfortable and will make your pedalling far more efficient and make it far easier to maintain a high cadence. Remember the knee pain? Cadence can be important.
3) Patch Kit? Well, I have noticed that few people carry patch kits anymore. They carry spare tubes or even in a more extreme case, just call someone to bail them out. The thing is that getting a patch on takes a little while and when I do it, I do it under optimum conditions at home. By the way, don't waste a CO2 canister pumping up a flat. If you haven't patched the hole, the tube will just go flat again. Shoot I don't even bother to pump them up unless I have a very short distance to go to home and a very slow leak.
4) Well 12 miles is pretty good for a 9 year old. They don't have great attention spans and they don't have great endurance. I would think that it is more important for them to have fun. Also, if you 9 year old is responsible, he might be able to use the bike for his personal transportation. I recall that was a big attraction for bike riding at that age.
5) Your bike does not have brazeon's for water bottles. Here in Central Florida, they the LBS won't sell bikes like that. Riding here in Central Florida for most of the year requires water.
You know though, it sounds like you are doing great though. Your post indicates that your are resourceful and persistant, two things that make for a good cyclist.
Everyone else seems to have addressed your other points with exception of what to do about adding a water bottle mount. You may want to investigate some of the options found on the Minoura webpage (http://www.minoura.co.jp/index-et.html) which include quick-release removable and saddle water-bottle mounts as well as handlebar mounts. Here's another webpage (http://www.nordicgroup.us/cageboss.htm) which also references a lot of Minoura products as well as others. Maybe one of those might work for you... or as other have recommended, a hydration pack is always an option. Camelbak also makes a hydration hip/fanny-pack if you don't really like the feeling of riding with something on your back.
BTW, while I can understand the fact that the curved step-through top-tube of the women's Sedona prevents one from using the downtube water bottle boss for an actual cage, Giant could have at least tapped the seat-tube for one usable boss. You may be able to have someone add one for you although it would most certainly void your warranty and I'm not entirely certain it can be done with an aluminum frame.
Originally posted by owlice
My tailbone hurts. My knees, especially the area right above the knees, hurt. My thighs do not hurt, and shouldn't thighs be a little sore when a couch potato rides 30+ miles? I have some numb fingers -- ring and pinkie, especially on my right hand -- that may or may not be from bike riding. It's worse after riding, but I think nerves are being compressed by un-bike related activity.)
Welcome back to the real world!
Slow down a bit. It is not a game. You may hurt yourself and the kid. Move on step by step.
In principle the child can cycle as long distance as the adult.
My son cycled with me the tour in Austria and Germany in 2001. He was 10 then. We cycled 60 - 100 km per day. In 2002 he cycled with me 1500 km from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh, PA, and back along the C&O Canal Path and Great Allegheny Passage. This year he again was with me on the 1500 km tour in Austria, Germany, and Denmark.
The weakest cyclist is to set the pace for the group. This year I was weaker than my son already. Children get strong quickly.
Buy bright cycling clothing for your kid to imrove his visibility and teach him the rules to cycle safely. Cycling IS dangerous as any sport and requires serious learning of safety techniques.
Thanks, all, for your helpful responses!
I don't have drop handlebars. The Giant I ride is considered a "comfort" bike. It's got fat tires and a pretty substantial (not light!) frame. I do change my hand position a lot and relax my back and shoulders, too, as I ride. (And shake out my arms, one at a time.)
I'm glad to hear pain above the knee isn't unusual! They felt like they were going to explode for a while. I raised the seat (hope you're sitting down) about 2", and that has helped, but they are still hurting. (Subsequent seat adjustments will not be so radical!)
I have been riding higher gears on occasion, so maybe that's it, too. (I'm a really slow rider; trying to work on building some speed so I can go on group rides and not be picked up by the SAG!)
Cadence is coming; when I rode this weekend (34 miles on Saturday -- my longest ride so far, and 16 miles on Sunday), I found faster spinning was much easier and felt more comfortable and natural. ("Faster" being relative, of course; still slow compared to those who really RIDE. My legs don't move that fast!)
Yes, I have a helmet and wouldn't ride without it.
Sounds like the next thing I need to add to my arsenal of biking things is gloves; paycheck after next for those!
Thanks for the hydration options and the links! I'll look into those.
I bought a fanny pack that holds two water bottles and rode the B&A with that, but would prefer to use it for shorter rides when I have my son and one of his buddies along; that way, I can carry an extra water bottle for our guest. (His bike has one water cage; my son's bike has two. I always let the boys get a PowerAde or Gatorade, but I want the both of them to have water, too.)
Giant could have at least tapped the seat-tube for one usable boss.
I thought I was going pretty slowly, actually. :( Started with a 1/2 mile trail (I'm not kidding!) and did that a couple of times until challenged by a couple of 9-year-olds to ride it for 5 miles. We did, but it was boring! It was only after that (July 19) that I started looking for longer trails, and then it was 6 miles a couple of times, then 7-10 miles, and now, our short rides are just under 8 miles.
I have a cyber-buddy (from a classical music board we both frequent) who suggested I build up to 50 miles in a week in order to do a 30-mile ride, so that's what I was working on. There was a group ride yesterday I'd been considering that was 30 miles long, so I was working toward that. I'm still pretty slow, though, so though I didn't go on that ride, I did get in a comparable ride by myself this weekend.
Bright clothing for my Owlet is a good idea; he's got a birthday coming up and a screaming jersey might just be in order! :)
Did you camp along the C&O? That's a ride I can envision us doing at some point. Don't know that I'd camp, though, if it meant I had to carry camping gear with us. (I have camping gear, but it's cushy car camping gear: big tent, air mattresses, etc. I have my limits!)
I have another question. I picked up a piece of glass in my front tire on Saturday (probably not a coincidence that it was near the place the father and baby daughter were stranded). I heard the clicking, so stopped and looked carefully at the tire, found the glass shard and pulled it out; it had definitely punctured the tire, but perhaps not the inner tube. I watched all the way home (maybe 8 miles) and then checked the air pressure the next day before riding and it was okay. (And then rode, watching that tire the whole time!)
Is it safe at this point to assume that the tube is okay? Or do I need to (learn how to) take it off to check? (Is this a stupid question? If so, my apologies. I don't want to watch the tire as I ride! :))
As long as the pressure is OK and the piece of glass is removed, you do not need to worry.
Yes we camped on the C&O. But we also stayed in the motels. The hiker&biker camping sites close to the D.C. did not look safe to me, but I can be wrong. I was in the USA as the tourist.
You will need the special camping equipment for the bicycle tour. There are special small tents, mats, and sleeping bags.
Max: Thanks for the information about the tire and about the C&O! Am glad I don't have to watch the tire anymore. I'm ever so much more interested in looking at birds and such.
I'm not much of a camper, so it'd probably have to be motels for the C&O trip for us. I'd have a hard time justifying (to myself) the expense of more gear...
I bought some camping gear last year; my son and I went camping and I learned a LOT! Don't pound tent stakes all the way in, impose a moratorium on bad word fines when putting up or taking down the tent, you're never too old to be afraid of the dark, etc.
Interesting trip, and great great views of the Perseid meteors, which was the motivation for the trip. We haven't been camping yet this year, but that's mainly because the weather's been miserable on the weekends that were possible for me.
What cool trips you take with your son! Is it just the two of you on these trips, or do you go with a group?
09-08-03, 08:34 PM
Speaking of camping on the C&O, I've biked the whole trail from Cumberland MD to DC with car supported camping. The best areas to camp are further west out of the city. Like Max said, the closer you get to the city, the more urban it gets. I believe the closest in we camped was around Harpers Ferry, which has nice camping. There is some decent camping aournd the WV and MD border in Paw Paw WV, and in a town called Williamsport, WV. Just thought I'd chime in, if you're at all interested.
Car supported camping I could probably do, but then, I'd need someone to drive the car. What I'd need is someone wanting to go camping who'd do the driving but didn't want to bike.
Hmmmm.... that might actually be possible. I have friends with two boys; the mom's idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn, but the dad is willing to camp with one or more of his tots. It's one of his boys that's gone biking with us, and the dad and the other boy joined us for a couple of days for the Perseids camping trip last August.
You and Max are giving me ideas...! Thank you!!
What time of year did you do this? (Max, same question to you, too. Wondering about the heat and humidity...)
I've been to Paw Paw a number of times. I have some land in West Virginia, and Paw Paw is the post office for it. Someday I hope to put a cabin on it. The land, not the post office. :)
09-08-03, 09:20 PM
We did the trip in the fall and split the trip into two weekends. It could easily be split into 3-4 weekends depending on how long you wanted to ride each day. The fall colors are really nice in WV, as you know. :)
Having flat bars on your bike may cause you hands and wrist to go numb, I can't ride for more then about 30 miles before my hands go numb on my mountain bike, I can usually ride 60 or more miles with no problems on my road bike with drop bars. Drop bars offer more hand positions and they are better contoured to support you weight. Also you said that you have been spinning more lately, that is an excellent idea. I used to have alot of pain in my knees after rides, but after taking a friends advice I started to spin more, especially on the hills, you have all those gears, why not use them? It sometimes feels like I'm not going anywhere but at least my knees feel good at the end of the day.
Thanks! Yeah, maybe splitting it up on weekends is a good idea! Tot gets only August off from school, and I wouldn't relish making the trip then.
I'm thinking the numbness might not be from the biking, as it doesn't go away, even after days off the bike. (I rode on Tuesday and didn't ride again until Saturday; numbness was still there before I biked on Saturday.) Will still get gloves, though, since numbness seems to be a common problem. Biking makes the numbness worse, but it's been there for a couple of weeks, and doesn't the numbness from biking normally go away after a few hours, if it's just from biking?
To be more specific, I think it maybe started with something else -- I have a pinched nerve, new this summer, oh joy and rapture! -- and maybe a nerve is compressed. (Ulnar nerve entrapment is what I'm thinking it might be; I've been off searching the Web!) Too much laptop use? Sleeping with my hands tucked under my head? And the bending when I ride, and especially with some weight on it... probably exacerbates the problem. My elbow really hurts after riding, and that pain eventually goes away, but the numbness in the hand is still there.
It's been really helpful to read that knee pain is not uncommon and that spinning more will probably help. I'll probably raise my seat just a bit more, too (but not 2" all at once again!).
Back on the anti-inflammatories again... (isn't that a song? :) )
Getting old is good. Doing it gracefully would be better!!
Just remember to make small adjustments. Making a huge adjustment all at once can often do more harm then good.
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