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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 04-11-13, 07:07 PM   #1
Ramaka
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First couple of days biking experience...

Hi All,
Just wanted to share my first 2 of many biking days....and get your feedback on how I can improve my speed and distance...
Frist Day: The weather here in NE was a pleasant 55F....could bike for only 3.7 miles at a speed of 7mph, though I had to stop twice for water, I could feel the "burn" in my legs. Felt really happy about it. My palms and butt were definitely uncomfortable, so went to LBS and asked him for some advice. LBS guy adviced me to get gloves and said that I will get used to the seat no worries. Experience with fellow bikers was good and bad mostly good. Had the frequent stares, but who cares, right? Read some of the threads here, decided and ordered biking shorts.It should be here by weekend hopefully.

Second Day: The weather was a bit gloomy with overcast condition. Biked for 4.7 miles at 8 mph speed. Felt a bit more comfortable with the seat, but palms still took most of the brunt due to the pressure on it. I am still confused on what and when to change the gears. I basically put the front gear at 2 and rear at 6-7 and not change it at all.

My aim is to bike at least 30 miles a day by June, is this a sane target?
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Old 04-11-13, 07:20 PM   #2
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Welcome to the fraternity.

Any target that you consider to be reasonable and achievable, is a good target.

My best advice if these are your first two days on a bike since childhood, is to not pay attention to any of the talk on here about distances and speed. Enjoy going for rides. If numbers motivate you, great. I would recommend you compare to yourself. In that way you're more likely to see consistant positive reinforcement and less likely to get discouraged by not catching up to riders who have decades of experience in the saddle.

It's tough for beginners to know whether bottom discomfort is because of saddle selection, position or need for the body to acclimate to the new activity. Generally speaking, no matter how well selected or positioned the saddle is, anyone's bottom is going to be sore when they first begin cycling. Repeated Time In The Saddle (TITS) is what is required to overcome this. However, if at any point you experience genital numbness or accute discomfort, something should be done to address this issue. Don't ignore that.

My bike is the best drug I ever got addicted to. I fall off the wagon from time to time. Enjoy exploring the world without windows and AC;-)
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Old 04-11-13, 07:45 PM   #3
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Great job! That's 2.7 miles further than I went that first day.

Ride lots, listen to your body. If you get to hurting too much stop, wait until you stop hurting, then repeat.

One thought on your goal, your body gets stronger during rest after physical stress. Rest days are important.
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Old 04-11-13, 08:28 PM   #4
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Go for time on the bike first. Don't worry about mileage or speed until you can get on the bike and ride for an hour. Once you can do an hour a day 5 days a week, try longer rides on Saturday or Sunday. Then you can start paying attention to mileage.
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Old 04-11-13, 08:29 PM   #5
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30 miles is an aggressive target, not impossible, but aggressive. The advice to take a rest day every couple/few days is important for body recovery. I commute 6 miles each way, for 12 miles each workday, and going 5 for 5 on the week is tough if there are any bad windy days. For example, tonight is Thursday, I am 4 for 4 this week, and I am debating taking a vacation day tomorrow because I am sore and feeling it. A lot depends on how hard you are riding, hills you ride, wind, etc. On the gears... the best approach for me is to find a good smooth cadence (speed of revolution of the pedals) that is not too slow, then use my gears to increase or decrease how hard it is to pedal as the wind and uphill/downhill grades change. Once you get the hang of that approach, the gear shifting will allow you to keep a moderate effort going at a healthy spinning pedal speed, and your bike just goes a little slower or faster depending on the hill or wind. Keep riding, remember to rest some and get good sleep at night, and I hope you have many great rides!
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Old 04-11-13, 08:45 PM   #6
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Consistency is more important than anything. I'd stick with what you're doing now 3 times a week until it's seems like you just went out and did something good for you. How far or how fast you go now will matter little in 5 or 10 years if you're still riding. If you stick with it great things will come.
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Old 04-11-13, 08:49 PM   #7
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I forgot to mention, Good Job!! keep up the good work. What Jethro56 said is good advice, too.
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Old 04-11-13, 11:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
Go for time on the bike first. Don't worry about mileage or speed until you can get on the bike and ride for an hour. Once you can do an hour a day 5 days a week, try longer rides on Saturday or Sunday. Then you can start paying attention to mileage.
+1 I would also think, doing a 30-mile ride is definitely doable by June. However, doing 30-miles every day? Ambitious.

re: Saddle -- There is a difference between "sore" and pain. You should be able to tell. Sore is fine. Your body will adapt. Pain is wrong: bad shorts, bad saddle, bad position on the saddle, etc... Sounds like you're not on cycling shorts, so that may be your problem. But then you also called it, "uncomfortable" which sounds like you just need to "get used to it". That'll probably take 3+ weeks due to your just beginning and all.
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Old 04-12-13, 12:03 AM   #9
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30 miles a day by June is reasonable. If you break the 30 miles ride into two 15 miles ride, with a rest stop, you can handle it with ease.

Ride safely!
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Old 04-12-13, 04:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ramaka View Post
Hi All,
Just wanted to share my first 2 of many biking days....and get your feedback on how I can improve my speed and distance...
Frist Day: The weather here in NE was a pleasant 55F....could bike for only 3.7 miles at a speed of 7mph, though I had to stop twice for water, I could feel the "burn" in my legs. Felt really happy about it. My palms and butt were definitely uncomfortable, so went to LBS and asked him for some advice. LBS guy adviced me to get gloves and said that I will get used to the seat no worries. Experience with fellow bikers was good and bad mostly good. Had the frequent stares, but who cares, right? Read some of the threads here, decided and ordered biking shorts.It should be here by weekend hopefully.

Second Day: The weather was a bit gloomy with overcast condition. Biked for 4.7 miles at 8 mph speed. Felt a bit more comfortable with the seat, but palms still took most of the brunt due to the pressure on it. I am still confused on what and when to change the gears. I basically put the front gear at 2 and rear at 6-7 and not change it at all.

My aim is to bike at least 30 miles a day by June, is this a sane target?
Hey, glad you're liking the hobby thus far! For your hands, get gloves with gel inserts, they work wonders. They'll soak up unwanted vibrations. Secondly, your handlebars and/or saddle may need to be adjusted if you're experiencing soreness in your arms.

Biking shorts. I was one of of the, "There's no way in hell you'll EVER catch me in spandex" guys. After my first ride, I reluctantly gave in. When MTBing I usually wear a liner but on the roadie, I'll suck it up and go out in spandex. I'm going to be frank with you and tell you straight up right now, do NOT skimp on bicycle shorts. You DO get what you pay for. IMO, if they're under $50, you're going to be in for a world of hurting. They don't last and they don't protect. Also go for a pair with the gel chamois. Your ass (amongst other areas) will thank you for it. Performance Bike sells some decent "Century" shorts, which have worked well for me. I believe they cost around $50-$60 and are also made in the USA.

As for changing speeds, that's going to come with experience, sort of like driving a manual in an automobile. I've been riding for a few years and still "dance around" sometimes. With more time on the bike you'll learn how the bike performs on what and you'll just "know" which gearing you want to use.

Eight mph is not bad for just starting out, even if it's a few miles. You will be riding 15-20 in no time.

You're doing great and keep up the good work! It DOES get easier very quickly. At first you feel overwhelmed (I still do from time to time...) like you're just never going to get faster or better but you will.
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Old 04-12-13, 04:32 AM   #11
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Wow wow wow, leave it in 2-6 or 7?? Aren't those really hard gears?? You're supposed to spinning at a good pace, usually I will be in 2-3 up to 5 on a commute/cruise and only use 3-6 or 7 when I feel like pushing myself. I think TC is in too high of a gear, also remember to raise your saddle to a proper height, visit sheldonbrown.

Also switch to metric, you'll get used to it ^ I wear my shorts under another pair of shorts hehe, need to lose some of the gut before I bother with a jersey.
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Old 04-12-13, 05:24 AM   #12
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Hey congrats and good job! Glad to see you are enjoying your new bike. It may take time for your body to adapt to the new demands you are putting on it. It is great to have a goal. I hope you make it but don't be discouraged if it takes a little longer than you hoped.

As far as the hand discomfort. You may benefit from moving the handlebars closer to you and higher. If you are sitting more upright you won't have to lean so hard on your hands. If you are not sure how to do that, bring the bike back to your shop and ask them to help.

Ride safe and have fun!
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Old 04-12-13, 06:27 AM   #13
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Nicely done.

You're getting good advice about building up slowly and not pushing your body too hard.

About gearing: If you're feeling the burning in your legs, that suggests that you could be "mashing", meaning spinning the cranks slowly. "Spinning" is when you put the bike in a lower gear so you are moving your feet much more quickly, but pushing a lot less for the same speed.

Most newbies mash. If it works for you, then it's not a problem. If you are feeling it in your knees, then it is a problem. Learning to spin does take time.

Time how long it takes you to do 60 full revolutions with the pedal. If it takes you a minute or more, that means your cadence is 60 RPM or less and that's mashing. If it takes you 40 seconds or less, that means your cadence is 90 RPM or higher and that's spinning.

If your hands are sore, that may be an indication that your handlebars are too low and you're putting to much weight on your arms. Getting the seat height right and then the handlebars at the right height can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are and therefore how far you can ride.

Cheers,
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Old 04-12-13, 06:52 AM   #14
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Here is how I started my sister on riding with gears:

First, shift to the middle gear in the front. I assume that you have three gears on the front. That is called a "triple."

Then, start riding in a flat area and experiment with shifting the rear gears. In the rear, the bigger the cog the easier the gear. Shift up and down as you pedal easily and get used to shifting. If you have numbers on your shifters, at first try shifting to lower numbers because that will be easier pedaling.

If you find it too hard to pedal when in the middle gear in front , shift the front to the smallest gear, which is the easiest gear. Then leave the front where it is and practice shifting the rear up and down as you pedal on the flats. Pedaling should feel easy. when I started I had to start with the smallest gear in the front.

If you chose to practice in the smallest gear in the front you do need to avoid going to the hardest gear in the rear and maybe even the second hardest gear. This is called cross chaining and the chain likely will rub on the shifting mechanism, the derailleur. If you have numbers on your shifter for the rear avoid the highest number. If you hear a funny rubbing noise you might have also have to avoid the second to the hardest number.
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Old 04-12-13, 07:19 AM   #15
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First off congrats...I hope you enjoy it as much as we all do.

I was also a no spandex guy. I am pretty red necked (i am a ditch digger with a big truck that has guns in it) and I wear spandex. I do not like anything that says GEL. It usually is a marketing ploy for some cheap non-breathable pad. I do agree you get what you pay for. I use bibs and will never go back to shorts and I wear a light pair of shorts over them. My over shorts are the very light slippery kind so they don't bunch and they still allow me to slide around the saddle. My bibs are Pearl Izumi, they make three levels. I started with the cheapest, which was nice but moved to the middle level ones and love them.

I wear gloves too, but prefer zero padding. I found the pads only put more pressure where I didn't want it. I wear gloves mostly for crash protection and grip.

Saddle height is extremely important. Most new riders start out too low. Your leg should be NEARLY at full extension on the bottom of your pedal stroke. Make sure you are pedaling with the ball of your foot not the arch.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:09 AM   #16
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The weather hasn't cooperated so I've been on the trainer in the basement. I noticed my hands going numb so I switched out the smaller bike that I'd put on the trainer so others could use it with my larger bike and it helped considerably. I was raising the seat so much on the other bike but the bars were still too low.

The larger bike put me back into a much better position, but now I feel more stress at the other end of the equation. I need to rotate the seat front edge down 1/4" (6-7 mm) and try it again.

If you can, try raising your handle bars up and backwards in small increments to shift your position and some weight off your palms.
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Old 04-12-13, 09:54 AM   #17
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Welcome to cycling...

I would say don't worry so much about speed and distance until you actually make a commitment to cycling. 2 rides is not a commitment. It's all well and good to say I want to get my speed up to 15 mph and go 30 miles but if after a week you stop riding what's the point.

Best advice you will ever get is JUST RIDE. Establish a routine and commit to getting out at least 2 - 3 times a week. In the meantime also research regarding nutrition and increasing endurance and learn to stretch and do light weight lifting; maybe even some walking.

Great thing about the internet is you can easily research what equipment to get and how to go about setting up a training regiment. Key is to don't push yourself to far or fast or you risk injury. Even worse you will start to feel sluggish and the thought of riding will not appeal to you.

The right equipment is necessary - a good pair of bike shorts is crudial. You never wear if dirty (and remember shorts hit the skin, no underwear in between). Places like Target or JCP are great for getting wicking work out shirts. I don't think gloves will help you if numbness is the issue (that is a positioning problem). If the numbness persists and you actually want to keep cycling, consider spending $100 for a "fitting". Also no one should actually need to wear in a saddle to get comfortable. It does take alittle something to build up tolerance down there but a saddle should not be your issue. If it remains uncomfortable, sadly you need a different saddle. That's a whole other long thread.

Anyway lots of good advice offered. Just be patience. I've been riding over 40 years and can honestly say sometimes a ride is easy and sometime it sucks. You just work to know you can work through the sucky parts...
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Old 04-12-13, 09:57 AM   #18
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Just a quick note... if you are too embarassed to go just spandex, consider wearing a mountain bike short. Actually what I do is buy good cycling shorts and then add a shell (ie pull on short) that contains polester or spandex (material that stretches). Great place to get those is REI - in the running department.
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Old 04-12-13, 10:05 AM   #19
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Forget about speed till you get in 500 miles. Takes that long for your legs to get use to pedaling.

5 miles rides worked for me. Rest, then another 5 miles.

Rode 80 laps around the block one day, 5 miles at a time.
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Old 04-12-13, 12:20 PM   #20
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Thanks everyone for your time, encouragement and advice. Read each and every post in detail. I couldn't bike last couple of days due to rain, planning to buy a cheap trainer. Being a stat background guy, I am for numbers so was totally into speed and distance. ! Will keep you updated.
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Old 04-12-13, 12:29 PM   #21
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If you're into stats, and have a smart phone, get an app like MapMyRide or Strava. Start the GPS when you start the ride and stop it when you finish. These tools are VERY motivating to me. It shows my stats for the week, month, year, etc. I like to set goals and compare to past months.
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Old 04-12-13, 02:11 PM   #22
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If you're into stats, and have a smart phone, get an app like MapMyRide or Strava. Start the GPS when you start the ride and stop it when you finish. These tools are VERY motivating to me. It shows my stats for the week, month, year, etc. I like to set goals and compare to past months.
Thank you. Yes, I am using MapMyRide.
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Old 04-12-13, 03:14 PM   #23
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Congrats on getting back on the saddle! After a long hiatus, you're bound to be slow and the back side somewhat sore. The goal of 30 miles is pretty ambitious, but can be done with practice. 30 miles/day average is like 210 miles per week. And many of us commute about 20 miles a day, and on the weekends, go on 50 or 100 miles of rides which is about 30 miles/day average.

The main challenge I find to keeping up the riding is the monotony. If you ride the same route all the time to work, it gets boring and there will be miserable days when weather isn't on your side. I change it up. Some days I ride a drop bar commuter, some days a SS/Fixie and some days maybe a road bike (with spandex!) Most days, I'm on a SS/Fixie with just shorts and short sleeve shirt. I don't ride hard into work because I don't want to work up a heavy sweat and smell up my office. I ride harder on the way home. But I also take detours to add a few miles to commute. Some times at the beginning and sometimes on the return home.

Another challenge I face in old age is recovery time. As a college student some decades ago, I never suffered cramps, tendon or ligament tears. But these days, if I push a bit too hard, I don't have issues during the day. I have massive cramps at night that can damage muscles and especially the anchor points of muscles. These can become chronically damaged muscles that can hurt your overall performance and take away skills like the ability to sprint up a steep hill. So you need to set lower limits on the bursts of power you may want to exhibit as your get aerobically more fit. You also need to stay hydrated better and intake sufficient calories to cycle that much. And you need to make sure you maintain electrolytes. And stretch out. Get a partner and have the partner help with massage on key muscles.

I have quite a few bikes in the garage. And a stash of components. Probably enough to build several more bikes from the ground up. That's probably extreme. But having at least 2 bikes not only helps with monotony, it can help provide backup in case one bike is in a state of repair. And part of getting to 30 miles/day means you could easily have 2 bikes in the shop under maintenance because you're riding so much and wearing out your bikes. If you can do a lot of little maintenance on your bikes locally, it will first of all save a lot of money, and second, it increases the availability of your bikes tremendously.

Get involved with advocacy for cycling. If you average 30 miles/day, I bet for 15 of those miles or even 20 miles per week, someone will want to join you and the only way you'll know is if you openly advocate cycling in your area and find them. I work in a big corporation. Nice campus. 5000 employees stuffed onto a site with enough space for 2800 cars - maybe. So I ride and encourage other riders. The plan in May is to start clinics at work. 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month, free bike clinics and tuneups. A raffle at each clinic for folks who rode their bike into work and come to the clinic. Just 2 hours from 4 - 6pm. And it's just me and another biker dude downstairs who is really into cycling to work. It's nothing related to Earth day/Earth week or even being environmental. It's about a common way to get to work that is quite self-reliant and fairly inexpensive if folks learn to maintain their bikes, and heck it beats gas prices at $4/gallon and the aggravation of spending valuable time hunting down rare parking spots on campus. My door-to-door times on my bike is less than for driving most days except on Fridays. So I commute on bike 3 - 4 days/week and drive in on Friday. I'm not as nutty as folks think. My mileage isn't that great. But Fridays means I can haul the bike stand and the tools and set up a mini shop outside. And it doesn't have to be a big production with V.P. approved emails to the whole campus. It's just a simple thing that's spreading by word of mouth and a few flyers in the various break rooms of the local buildings.

Lastly, have fun. Yeah, we always encounter bum drivers out there who nearly kill us and we mentally flip them off. But overall, I have fun riding and I have fun riding just for pleasure. I sometimes like to play games like "keep-up-with-that-dude" in spandex on that $6000 Cervelo. Or "threading the bike lane" to get to the front of the left turn lane knowing that cars at the back are unlikely to make that first left arrow and will need to wait maybe 2 light cycles to get to the front. There are reasons I hate driving in traffic. But there are reasons I love my bike when there is a lot of slow car traffic. It's all fun, and fun with a purpose of getting you somewhere. That's bonus icing on the cake in my world.
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Old 04-17-13, 02:55 PM   #24
Ramaka
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Thanks gyozadude for your detailed input.much appreciated...After recovering for a couple of days I went in again today and did 7.2 mi at 10 mph....I tried bike shorts and man, did that feel good. I look forward for more biking this spring/summer and fall and hopefully I can reduce my humongous weight and gain good knowledge from you guys.....BTW, do you know or recommend some way how I can raise some money for charity while I bike? Anyone experienced in this? Please advice . ​Back to applying some biofreeze on my legs and get ready for Friday's biking !
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Old 04-17-13, 06:03 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
If you're into stats, and have a smart phone, get an app like MapMyRide or Strava. Start the GPS when you start the ride and stop it when you finish. These tools are VERY motivating to me. It shows my stats for the week, month, year, etc. I like to set goals and compare to past months.

This.

Mapmyride is a huge motivator for me.

Welcome to cycling. I just got started in November and love every bit of it. Just keep pedaling and enjoy your surroundings. Remember, whatever the numbers may be when you start, you're still doing more than before you started.
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