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Thread: Total Beginner~

  1. #1
    Junior Member Chrysalis's Avatar
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    Total Beginner~

    Hi everyone~
    When I was much younger I was very active, softball, biker, gymnast....three children and 33 years since I was on a bike, a major back injury and I am beginning again to get my strength back, weight down, energy up. I'll be 55 this April. I lost 141 lbs about eight years ago by watching what I ate, walking 20-25 miles a week and going to curves 3x/week. I felt great and was below 200 for the first time since I had my second child. I injured my back about six years ago and was left with terrible nerve impingement to legs which made walking any distance impossible. My highest weight was 340 in 2000 and I am currently 275.
    I bought a Schwinn Meridian Trike and have been riding with my husband on the weekends for the last two weeks and an indoor recumbent bike every day. I've gone from being able to pedal for two minutes to 22 minutes and 3 miles. Rode to the beach yesterday and today which felt great.
    The trike is big and heavy with one gear...he coasts half the time while I am peddling like hell!! I have a Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike too and DH got it out, pumped up the tires and cleaned and lubed the chin, thinking that it would be a lot easier ride for me. I couldn't do it....I felt like I had no balance and I was all over the place on it...it was discouraging to say the least.
    I know I am making progress. I've gone from literally doing nothing to riding everyday, either inside or out. I have some lessened pain in my legs and am sleeping better (a big issue) so progress yes.
    Wes thinks a 3 speed beach cruiser might be an easier ride for me with a lower center of gravity. Any thoughts?
    I've read many post on here now and you guys are amazing and a real inspiration.
    I always want to fly before I learn how to walk.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    "...I felt like I had no balance and I was all over the place on it...it was discouraging to say the least...."

    Don't give it up yet.
    Try it a few more times at least.
    Sometimes new riders try to go too slow. That really makes it difficult to maintain balance!
    Practice in an out of the way place where you don't have to worry about cars etc.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Chrysalis's Avatar
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    Thanks Bill...will do~
    Went for a spin again...3.6 miles outside...will do the other 1.5 inside.goal this week is 5 miles/day

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    FTR, not everyone is a pro on the bike off the line. MOF, switching form one bike to another, I feel twitchy even after 70,000 miles on the bike over the last 15 years.

    Give it some time, find a big open space (parking lot) and ride till you develop balance.

    Get the DH to put on some slick type tires, high psi, good rolling tires on your mountain bike. It makes a huge difference in ride enjoyment. You'll be spinning faster and rolling easier. Heck, I'd never expect my wife to enjoy pushing a one gear contraption down the road. Heck, I wouldn't enjoy it.

    Believe me, when you see what a difference it is you'll enjoy the ride MUCH more. You'll spin while using cardio rather than doing a leg squat type weight lifting fatiguing workout.

  5. #5
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    Hi Chrysalis! I started riding when I was nearly 300lbs about 6 years ago and I was a bit wobbly on my new bike as well. It took a while (and research) to figure out how the gears work and what "spinning" and "cadence" means. My balance improved and so did the amount of time and my speed increased. I am now thoroughly addicted to bike riding and can't believe I waited so long to start. My weight has yoyoed up and down but this past year I've managed to lose 35 lbs and keep it off.

    Welcome to our group!


  6. #6
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    I am a big fan of 3-speed trikes. I have three trikes, even though I don't have balance problems. They make great utility bikes and are very comfortable, and the 20" wheel folding Worksman Port-O-Trike can maintain halfway decent speed with the 65 psi Kenda Kontact BMX tires I put on it. Most trikes come with 40 psi knobbies, so replacing those with higher pressure tires with smoother tread will make a difference in speed.

    You might be able to put a bigger chainring on your trike to get a higher gear. I mention this because you said "he coasts half the time while I am peddling like hell!! ". This probably means your gearing is too low. IMHO, it is better to have gears though, so a 3-speed trike would be better so you don't have to mash that higher gear to take off from a dead stop, or to climb a hill or fight a headwind. Your knees will thank you.

    If your trike has aluminum rims, that's a plus. Alloy rims are lighter, and rotating weight makes the biggest difference. My Torker Tristar and Worksman Port-O-Trike both have aluminum rims, and they are faster than my steel-rimmed Gomier trike.

    Here's my Port-O-Trike a couple months after I bought it. I used it to transport my new Dahon Speed D7 folding bike home from REI, even though I had a perfectly running truck at home. I prefer to use bicycles for utility, transportation, and recreation.

    Worksman Port-O-Trike carrying Dahon Speed D7 by kittyz202, on Flickr

    Here's my Gomier being used to transport my new Bike Friday Pocket Companion home from the LBS a couple months ago. Even that heavy Sherman tank of a trike can maintain some speed, thanks to the 6-speed drivetrain.

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    From Chrysalis's Hubby-

    I'm Chrysalis's riding companion, chief mechanic and bike parker. Today I watched her struggle to get up on two wheels again for the first time in about 35 years, and it didn't quite work out, as she said. She wobbled down about one house distance and got off it, not feeling comfortable enough to go any further or try more at this time.
    She has a Schwinn 3 wheel trike she's been riding, and is up to over 3 miles at a time on it now, which is pretty good considering where she started. But it's heavy, and you work to go on it! The goal is to get back to a two-wheeler. She has a Schwinn High Country womens MTB she bought about 10 years ago and rode briefly. She's had a back injury since then- and has put on some weight, one of the reason's we're doing the bike thing- to try to get our old bodies moving again.

    My current bike is also a mountain bike- an Ibex Alpine- and when I got back on it for the first time in about 10 years, it felt awfully wobbly and unstable. It still feels twitchy to me, moreso than I like, but its a mountain bike- and it's geometry is naturally going to be less stable than a road bike or a cruiser.
    I feel that she'd be better off trying to get back up on two wheels on a cruiser type bike, something that's more stable than her MTB. I think it'd help her feel more stable to start with, and give her the stability and confidence she needs to get back up on two wheels.
    A major factor for her is a fear of falling. With her bad back, she does NOT want to go down. I don't blame her. That in itself is a big factor. I can relate- I had a knee replaced 2 years ago, and I do NOT want to fall on it! That was a big fear of mine. Heck, I'm 63, and I just flat don't want to go down period!
    Opinions and advice would be most welcome!! Would a cruiser help her to get back on 2 wheels??
    Wes

  8. #8
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Start off at your own pace and do what you feel comfortable with at first. As you get more into it and more comfortable then start pushing yourself a little at a time.

    Bill is right that you might not be going fast enough which may affect your balance. Also the slicks that Mr. Beanz suggested will make a world of difference. Since you are new to riding on two wheels give yourself time to adjust. Its different for everyone as far as how long it takes but just stick with it.
    lil brown bat wrote:
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  9. #9
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    There's lots of things to work on when you're just starting. The "peddling like hell" might be a good thing if it means that the rpm of the crank (cadence) is high. Like most beginners I started with too low a cadence (65 rpm) and thought I was a natural "masher". I read where 80 was a more efficent cadence and worked on "spinning". I now spin in the 90's without thinking about it and exceed 140 in my spin class at the Y. I've only been riding since Oct 2010.

    If you had multiple gears where you could choose your cadence for a given speed. One could gear up and lower cadence which would work the leg muscles harder. Or you could gear down and increase cadence that works the cardio system harder. So "peddling like hell" if I understand your post means that your leggs/knees are getting a break while your cardio system is working harder. I feel the cardio system is a better system to work on first. Without going into great detail I also understand that for endurance that a higher cadence (to a point) allows for longer rides and better recovery between rides.


    My point to all this is don't be in a big hurry to move on to 2 wheels. Lots of good miles in your trike.

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    Peddling like heck...

    What she meant by peddling like heck is that it's hard to pedal, not that she's peddling fast. IF she had multiple gears, then yes- she could gear down... what she meant was that the peddling effort is high. I need to check her tire pressures tomorrow... I think they're on the low side- I need to get them up towards the high end of their pressure range.
    Wes

  11. #11
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    It does look like the rear sprocket could be changed out to a larger one and links added to the chain if you wanted to. Another alternative is http://www.terratrike.com/models.php. I believe http://www.hamptonsedge.com/ rents trikes. I hope so as I want to stop by there In Feb. I got trikes on my mind if you haven't figured that out yet.

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    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I think that you might look into upgrading the drivetrain on, or getting another trike that would allow for a wide gearing range. With the fear and danger of falling a trike is going to be one of the better choices...or consider a recumbent of some type.
    I have been considering a tadpole trike for my wife to ride so that she wouldn't be in danger of falling from her dizzy spells.
    One Foot Less

  13. #13
    Neil_B
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    Balance can be trained. In 2008 I taught an adult to ride. He was concerned about balance, having had an inner ear problem. First time I spent a couple hours with him on a trail having him simply coasting, pedals removed, and the seat lowered enough that he could put his feet down if he needed to. By the third "lesson" we went on a 20 mile ride, and he had a great time:





    When I taught myself to ride at age 40, I did as you did and just hopped on. After the first ride ended in the first crash, I spent my second ride practicing balancing. I lowered the saddle so I could touch the ground on either side, took the bike to a frozen field near my home, (it was New Year's Day), and coasted. (I'd have removed the pedals but I didn't have a pedal wrench.)

    So take the pedals off, lower the saddle so you can touch the ground, and practice balancing. You can do it!

  14. #14
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I believe http://www.hamptonsedge.com/ rents trikes. I hope so as I want to stop by there In Feb. I got trikes on my mind if you haven't figured that out yet.
    Me too!
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

  15. #15
    I am the Snail~! Peter_C's Avatar
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    One possible idea that many on this forum do not like, but I fell in love with was moving to a recumbent trike, a "tadpole" - 2 wheels in front, one wheel in back. They start at $999 and go up to around $6K in price. I own a TerraTrike 'Rover', with an 8-speed IGH (Internally Geared Hub), it has a 400lb weight limit, (I started at 360lbs, and am currently around 320lbs).

    The BROL forums has a section just about trikes at http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...splay.php?f=13

    You may wish to consider staying with a trike, but perhaps one a bit more comfortable? I often go for 4-9hr rides, and am only limited to it getting dark and/or too cold to continue. I am a slow rider, but enjoy it so completely now. My first bike (since I was young and dumb) was a Giant Suede DX - I did ride some 650 miles on it before getting too much pain on rides longer than 20 or so miles. After riding my trike for 3 months, I sold the Giant, and am hoping to do at least 1000 miles this year.

    Best of luck to you, and remember, the bike (or trike) that you will ride is the one you want~!









    The last photo was taken about 3 weeks after having my right hip replaced. I used my trike during my rehab, and slowly started riding 2-5 miles at a time. My longest ride to date is 42 miles, and I did another 30 mile ride the next day. So very comfortable, lifetime warranty too.
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  16. #16
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Peter_C is right. I used to own a tadpole trike and I loved it. I got more into hill climbing and didn't ride it enough to keep the recumbent muscles in shape, so I sold it. Recumbents use some different muscles than upright (DF) bikes, so it takes about a week or two to get used to riding one.

    This is what I used to ride, a Sun EZ-TAD CX. I bought it on Craigslist in great condition for $400, which was a steal. It sold at my LBS on consignment for $650. I got $560 of that and applied it towards the purchase of the folding Bike Friday that I use for hill climbing when it's impractical to transport a full-size road bike.

    The headrest is homemade. I made it out of aluminum tubing and hose clamps, with a pool noodle float toy as a cushion. Redneck engineering at its finest!

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    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Not much to add here - lots of good info.

    I just wanted to say "Welcome". Sounds like youve got the passion to try - anything else can be taught. I will take the "want" to ride a bike over technique anyday.

    I too was "shaky" when I first started riding again. As the days/weeks/moths have passed I find that the confidence of youth has returned (Im 48) and the coolest thing about this journey has been learning to understand my body and what I can do with it. I get a kick out of riding hills and now instinctively knowing what my body can and cant do. Its a blast!

    Good luck and stick around - your always welcome

  18. #18
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Chrys and Martay, I think Neil's suggestion of lowering the seat so Chrys' feet can touch the ground is a good one for getting a feel for a two wheeler again.

    If you decide that the mountain bike isn't for you, I would look at crank forward or semi-recumbent bikes. This can be a variation of the beach cruiser you mentioned. Like an Electra Townie. http://www.rei.com/product/798551/el...-21d-bike-2012 Or can be more upscale, like a Rans. The theory is that the seat is further back and lower so you can touch the ground with your feet. Your pedaling is kind of like a cross between an upright bike and a recumbent. Hills might be harder because you can't as easily stomp the pedals, but for flat rides they seem nice. If I could have 10 bikes, one would be a crank forward.

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    I am the Snail~! Peter_C's Avatar
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    The crank forward *IS* also a great tweener-type bike, my Giant Suede DX (photo above) is also a crank-forward like the Townie. But, the problem, at least to me, was that most all of your weight is on the seat, and I never did find a seat that was comfortable after 20-odd miles of riding. The trike however is simply a rolling lawn-chair, it's almost a sin to ride as it is so comfortable. Plus, whenever you do stop, you have a chair with you every time
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    Junior Member Chrysalis's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. The trikes do look like a lot of fun.....I'm learning a lot. Lowering the seat , feet on the floor is a great idea. I used to do walkovers on the balance beam so balance will come I expect. My weight makes me feel cumbersome but will def. figure it all out. Am up to 5 miles a day this week between the in and out and loving it!

    Cool bikes to look into!

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    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Stick with it. I started seriously riding again last year after about 20 years away from cycling (never was serious before, just rode off and on for fun). My first attempts were quite shaky and uncoordinated. As a former gymnast, I'm sure you know that balance and coordination can be developed. Just like in gymnastics, you should do strengthening exercises and short drills on specific skills like balance, starting, and stopping. I assume your MTB is multigeared and suggest that you shift it into a middle gear and ride it like a single speed until you are comfortable with your balance. When you ride, keep your head up and look forward. Beginners tend to go where they look, so focusing on that bush along the path increases the likelyhood that you will end up crashing into it. Avoid the temptation to look down at the bike. Remember that a bicycle is steered as much by leaning and weight distribution as by the handlebars. If you try to steer just by turning the handlebars, as you do on a trike, you will feel off balance toward the outside of the turn and could easily end up oversteering or overcorrecting.

  22. #22
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrysalis View Post
    Thanks so much for all the great suggestions. The trikes do look like a lot of fun.....I'm learning a lot. Lowering the seat , feet on the floor is a great idea. I used to do walkovers on the balance beam so balance will come I expect. My weight makes me feel cumbersome but will def. figure it all out. Am up to 5 miles a day this week between the in and out and loving it!

    Cool bikes to look into!
    I hate to reference myself yet again, but I'm the balance challenged guy I know best..... As I wrote, I spent about an hour going back and forth on that frozen field getting the hang of balancing. However, it took several rides to get used to it with my saddle at a normal height. Give it time. The improvement will be gradual.

  23. #23
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter_C View Post
    The crank forward *IS* also a great tweener-type bike, my Giant Suede DX (photo above) is also a crank-forward like the Townie. But, the problem, at least to me, was that most all of your weight is on the seat, and I never did find a seat that was comfortable after 20-odd miles of riding. The trike however is simply a rolling lawn-chair, it's almost a sin to ride as it is so comfortable. Plus, whenever you do stop, you have a chair with you every time
    The crank-forward bikes are really cool. I picked one up in Florida this past summer and in only a few months, I've put more miles on it than either of my previous bikes for the past two years! And yes, that seat is EXTREMELY comfortable.

    rans.jpg

    Peter C brought up the sinfully comfortable trike seats as well. Well, I've been there and done that, too. LOL!

    lounging.jpg

    Yes, it's like riding a lawn chair. And yes, it's great having a chair to relax in everywhere you go.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    That having been said, options are great. And I wholly recommend trying different things out to see what works best for you. But above all, perseverance will ultimately determine your success. Keep going and know that these forums can offer lots of good advice, suggestions and support, but it is ultimately up to you. You CAN do it.

    Welcome and ROCK ON!
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

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    We haven't been back to this thread for a little while- perhaps time for an update!! My wife rode 80 miles last month between her 77 lb Schwinn Marathon trike and her exercise bike! This is tremendous progress for her! AND, tomorrow, a truck should be delivering a brand-new shiny red Terra Trike Rambler from Utah Trikes, opted out with BB-7 brakes, luggage rack, Power Grip pedals, etc. I'm very proud of the effort she's made- and the progress she's made. She's gone from being barely able to go around the block on her trike- to doing 6 miles on it this past Saturday! Additionally, after a couple of short test rides on a T/T Rover and a Catrike Speed, I've decided to go the 3 wheel route myself on a Catrike. I've already started my trike fund!
    Wes

  25. #25
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Cool! You guys will love the recumbents, and congratulations on the progress! I used to enjoy tearing around corners at speed when I had mine, and of course you always have a chair whenever you stop. I've almost fallen asleep in mine before.

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