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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-30-08, 01:59 PM   #1
krazygluon
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First bike for athena wife

Ok, a bit of back story. I've been riding road bikes for about 2 years now (although I had a bit of a break due to moving) and quietly trying to get my wife into biking.

Now that we've moved somewhere with a gorgeous bike-friendly 25-mile limited access park road, and she's seen how happy/sane I am biking, she's decided she wants to, but there are a few obstacles:

1) She's *never* ridden a bike.
1a) She doesn't want to invest any more than a bare minimum in her first bike in case she winds up hating it. (she want to pay <200, <100 if possible...I know this is near impossible, but I need a case to upsell her on it.)
(plus, if she does like it, she'll eventually upgrade to a higher end hybrid or mid-level road bike that could keep up with me, or we may try to go tandem for group riding)
2) She's a wide-hipped athena (just <200lbs)

So my questions are: has anybody been in this situation before of having to teach an adult (and a very non-athletic one at that) to ride a bike from scratch?

If so, what's your recommendation on what to start her out on? I'd love to find a used LBS grade hybrid as opposed to picking up the nearest piece of department store junk.

Also, any saddle recommendations? I know that whatever stock saddle this thing is going to come with won't work for her.
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Old 07-30-08, 02:04 PM   #2
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Get her a simple beach cruiser with coaster brakes. Keep the bike simple. Make sure it firs her, too. Spend some easy time riding with her and make it fun.

I'll ping in The Historian about starting out as an adult beginner, he knows far more than me about that aspect.
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Old 07-30-08, 02:20 PM   #3
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I had an 80's style 10 spd huffy growing up so I have a 'cycling' past. In 2000, I purchased a classic beach crusier with coaster breaks (no hand breaks/just backward pedels). Initialy I liked it because it was easy, safe and upright but over time I begain to hate it. I hated no hand breaks and it just got boring. Taking hills sucked and you have to be careful as to the weight of the bike because some of them out there is more like your pulling it rather than riding it.
I have seen a nice Schwinn Panther with hand breaks at Target for about $100. Just to note, it's hard to find correct bike sizes at box stores. You can always get something cheap and if she hates the bike or wants to move up, you can sell the bike for free on craigslist.org. I would say look on craigslist for a used bike, but again, it's the size issue.
Bikes are not cheap and you get what you paid for. Believe me, I still have some sticker shock!!
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Old 07-30-08, 03:09 PM   #4
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I'd said try and buy something better used, if you buy used and she hates it chances are you'll be able to sell it back for about what you paid. The thing is crappy bikes are often crappy to ride. It'll be hard for her to like an activity while using bad equipment. If you go the used bike route and she likes it then she has a decent bike that will grow with her for a bit, if she likes it and has a really cheap bike you're just gonna have to get a new bike anyways and you'll be out the money. just my $.02. You should be able to find a decent used hybrid for $400 or so no prob.
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Old 07-30-08, 04:59 PM   #5
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Update: Well, we just got back from REI and the big-blue-box-that's-destroying-the-world. Sure enough we saw hybrids we loved at REI for $400+ and crap at the other place.

I tried to talk her into the hybrids at REI, but she just won't pay more than $200 max for this because, not having any previous cycling experience (well, her dad tried but had no patience and I tried, but it was a yard-sale-specail that was the wrong size)

If only I could get her sized for a bike and deliver one...but fit tends to be a personal issue.

The beach cruiser is completely out of the question as our main riding course isn't terrible with hills, but it has enough of them that I just can't see her handling it without some mechanical advantage.
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Old 07-30-08, 05:04 PM   #6
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Many non riding spouses assume they "just cannot keep up" with you or that they "do no want to ruin your workout" by riding with you.

When I first talked mine into riding, and she had to get off the bike to walk a minor uphill section, I told her that I was glad I bought some mountain type shoes, as they were much easier to walk in with her than my road shoes.

Moral: convey to her that 8-9 mph with her is more fun than your usual 22-28 mph ride.
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Old 07-30-08, 05:08 PM   #7
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Yep, i've pushed the point numerous times that biking together is a good excuse for me to learn to spin faster in lower gears.
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Old 07-30-08, 06:01 PM   #8
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The advantage for REI is their return policy. As far as I know their great return policy applies to bikes too. If she gets the bike, tries it a couple of times and doesn't like it you can return it. That's why I bought my first bike in 15 years at REI. I figured if it ended up just sitting in the garage all summer and I never rode it I'd return it, but that didn't happen.

But if you buy the crap bike for 100 dollars and she ends up liking riding, she'll probably want a more expensive bike sooner, and then you've just wasted the $100. Or the bike might be so bad she won't want to ride it at all.

Edit: And I thought I'd add the bike I did buy for my first bike was a Novara Corsa. And I've been pretty happy with, although now that I'm starting to ride to work and doing more long rides I'm starting to outgrow it and I'm thinking of getting something more like a road bike. But I found that the nice wide tires (700x40) made it a much more stable ride when I was still figuring out what the heck I was doing on a bike again.

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Old 07-30-08, 07:32 PM   #9
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You might also want to contact Cuda2k. He is going through the same issues teaching his wife to ride.
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Old 07-30-08, 08:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krazygluon View Post
So my questions are: has anybody been in this situation before of having to teach an adult (and a very non-athletic one at that) to ride a bike from scratch?
No, but I've taught a lot how to ski and kayak. From that perspective, I strongly advise you to get someone else to teach her. There are reasons, and if you really want I'll go into it, why spouses/SOs generally aren't a good choice to teach their spouse/SO certain kinds of skills; likewise with parents teaching children. It's no reflection on you as a rider or even as a teacher, there are just other reasons why this usually doesn't work out well.
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Old 07-30-08, 08:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
So my questions are: has anybody been in this situation before of having to teach an adult (and a very non-athletic one at that) to ride a bike from scratch?
There have been a number of threads on the subject posted on the forums here. You might try searching for them...start with a key word of "teaching", perhaps?
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Old 07-30-08, 09:34 PM   #12
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<snip> From that perspective, I strongly advise you to get someone else to teach her. There are reasons, and if you really want I'll go into it, why spouses/SOs generally aren't a good choice to teach their spouse/SO certain kinds of skills; likewise with parents teaching children. It's no reflection on you as a rider or even as a teacher, there are just other reasons why this usually doesn't work out well.
I am going to have to agree with lil brown hat here. I have found that if my wife and I are learning something together we are fine. But if I try to teach her something from scratch--not so good. When we were doing long haul trucking together there was an incident in Kansas City one night where I tried to "help" her learn to back a truck--it almost cost us our marriage! She learned on her own eventually but as long as it was me trying to teach her it just didn't work. I don't know what it is. I suspect it is mostly my attitude but there is something that causes my "helpful" comments to come across in a negative way to her.
Give it a shot but be ready to bail on the idea pretty quick if friction starts anywhere except her saddle!!!

Tell her to read some of the postings here where someone went cheap thinking they didn't want to invest much in a "first bike" only to regret it later when they QUICKLY outgrew the junky bike and had to spend to get a decent bike shortly after starting to ride. It is rarely more frugal to go cheap out of the gate. Get something decent from the start and the learning curve is much more pleasant.
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Old 07-30-08, 09:46 PM   #13
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You may want to consider having her on a stationary bike first just to get her used to pedaling.
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Old 07-30-08, 10:14 PM   #14
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Ok, my thoughts:

1.) get her a decent bike. A simple department store bike might be OK for what she wants to do. I agree an entry-level hybrid is a good idea.

2.) get someone else to teach her if possible. You don't need the frustration of teaching your spouse. Nor does she need to deal with the thought of not living up to your example or expectations.

3.) gently remind her that she's probably going to look pretty silly at first. This isn't an activity you can learn in private, unless you have a secluded riding area in your backyard.

4.) Remember, she probably knows nothing about bikes, so don't be shocked at the sort of questions you get asked. (Keep that in mind in case I ever ride with you.)

5.) The basic method to learn to ride is to lower the saddle so she can have both feet on the ground, and remove the pedals. She's going to need to learn to balance at first, and get used to the feel of the bike. Have her ride on a surface with a slight downgrade - pavement will usually be smoother, but grass might be better if you (and she) think she may fall. As she gets more comfortable and begins to look balanced on the bike, add the pedals, and gradually begin raising the saddle. As she uses the pedals, she will notice she's more comfortable in her knees with a higher saddle.

6.) Once she is riding, let her make the decisions about when or for how long she rides. Cycling is not a seed you can force into growth. Also, she's going to be more tired than you at first, since she needs to train muscles to think differently.

7.) And finally, never, never even hint that riding with her as a beginner is less than a pleasure.
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Old 07-31-08, 11:29 AM   #15
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I bet most good LBS could offer riding lessions or know of classes. I just watched something on Sunday Morning broadcast about a lady that teaches peeps to ride. By the way, I think it awesome as to wanting her to ride and get a better bike. I can't stand it when someone has to fight or beg for something better!
One note, if she doesn't want to do it, don't force it on her because she will be negative from the start and will hate it. Period.
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