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  1. #1
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    New to biking for exercise

    Hi.

    I'm in my late forties and just decided to start cycling for exercise. I've had my share of heart health issues at age 40, and I really need to add something to my exercise regimen, which only consists of Pilate's Reformer right now.

    I do medical transcription from home, and it is a horribly sedentary job that is taking its toll on me physically. I feel 60..

    I live in SC, small town, and I am looking for a bike to ride around the roads in the sub, as well as a way to travel to some nearby stores to do a little shopping, and possibly up to Curves to get a little exercise there. Those trips would be just 3-4 miles maybe. I'll start slow.

    What I would like is advice on a starter bike for myself. I don't have a lot of money to spend, maybe just $150 max right now, especially since I will have to buy shoes and extras for bike safety. I looked at Walmart today, but just can't decide.

    I will be on good roads in the sub, but I will also have to ride on the side of the road for my store trips, which is gravel/dirt-type gradients in some areas, grass on others. I know nothing really about bikes, except what I've researched today. I had thought about a mountain bike, but I don't want it to be sluggish on the good roads. I'm not into major speed. I don't care for the racing handlebars.

    I want something basic and durable that I can upgrade later if needed. I'm into comfort I want this to be fun and something I enjoy, not a struggle. Can I find a half-decent bike in my price range at the local Walmart or K-Mart stores? The ones they show at the walmart.com are pretty much what I'm seeing at the store, though they were picked over so bad I had a lot of nothing to really look at.

    Also, why do they stick the bikes up in the air ten feet above your head? How are you supposed to decipher the right fit?

    I appreciate any feedback. I'd like to make a purchase Friday or Saturday.

    Thanks folks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member KeithA's Avatar
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    First off, welcome to the forum.

    Truth be told, I'd strongly recommend against buying a Walmart bike. There are numerous safety and quality issues involving what they're selling. You might just be throwing your money away or worse.

    For $150, you're not going to get too much at a dedicated bike shop as well, so I guess I'm going to recommend you keep an eye out for used bikes at places like Craigslist.com.

    As far as types of bikes, I'd consider a hybrid if I were in your shoes. But, hybrids come in many flavors. If you want something stable on less than ideal roads, but able to cruise efficiently on regular roads, search for one with flat handle bars up front. If they're raised too much, they'll put your body position all off for efficient cycling. Also, you'll have to have an idea as to what size bike you need. Fit is very significant as far as bicycling goes. Do a search. There are many online sites that will help in this regard.

    Most of all, listen to the adivice of those that will post in your thread. They'll add a lot.

    One more thing, don't be too rushed in your decision. Be judicious.

  3. #3
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    First, what KeithA said.

    Second, get thee to an LBS (local bike shop). Yes, you'll spend a little more there, but you will get something that's SAFE, and assembled by people who build bikes for a living, not a smart-alek 18 year old part-timer at Walmart.

    I was sort of in your shoes seven months ago. Wanted to get into biking, but didn't want to spend too much because I wasn't sure if I'd stick with it. I ended up buying a relatively low-end Trek mountain bike for about twice your budget. I'm COMPLETELY glad I did.

    It works well, it goes where I want to go (which, surprisingly, is mostly on the road). The store keeps giving me free (lifetime) minor adjustments so my brakes are perfect, my shifters work, etc.

    I had briefly tried a used piece of junk that turns out was a Walmart bike. It was so awful I can't even tell you. I bought it and sold it on Craigslist for the same price a couple of weeks later. God that was a bad bike!

    Trek at least (others may as well) had a deal -- one year, no interest, pay as much as you like each month until it's paid. I took the deal and paid it off in two or three months.

    I'm more knowledgeable now, and I believe all the major brands are going to offer similar values at about $300 or so. Maybe you can find one that has a leftover 2004 model or 2005 model and save a few bucks. But don't be penny wise and pound foolish -- you need something of quality to be out there in traffic playing with cars.

    You said your health is the issue: do not cut corners now. Get the minimum BEST bike you can stretch your budget into, and you'll be glad you did.

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  4. #4
    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Check local bicycle dealers for closeouts and used bikes.

    Be sure the bike fits you. Most WM bikes come in just one size. Sadly, the world is not one size.

    Good luck and keep us informed.

    Bicycling has a way of becoming an addiction (right, DG?) so don't be surprised if it grabs you pretty hard.

    Have fun. BTW, my wife didn't start "more serious" bicycling until she was 62yo. You are still a "youngun."
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 12-27-05 at 06:41 PM.
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  5. #5
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    You can find bikes in your price range at K-mart, Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and other retailers, but don't expect them to be very upgradeable. Also make sure that you have a competent bike mechanic look it over to ensure it is assembled properly or assemble it. K-Mart and Dicks seem to carry the Royce Union Calais which might serve your needs. http://www.kmart.com/catalog/product...94961562&Nty=1

    These retailers also carry Schwinns, which are a fairly respected brand, you might look at them as well.

    Local Bike Shops carry a much wider variety of bicycles that are of higher quality, which also means higher price. The minimum is probably about $219 or so, but they may have used bikes or earlier model years that you can get a better deal on. They also should have knowledgeable sales people and mechanics who can help you find the right bike for you, ensure it is put together right and fit for you, keep it maintained for you, and help you gain the knowledge to do routine maintenance tasks yourself.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Other sources of help, at the local bike shops there might be some monthly bike magazine/journals. In it are local people who are selling used bikes. Also they will list the local bike clubs whose members might be selling and also beginner riders might join the rides and meetings. You might need a support group, a mentor, or just other women to talk with about riding.

  7. #7
    lunatic fringe Dogbait's Avatar
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    Missy C,
    A bike shop will be a better choice than a discount store like Wal Mart or K Mart. It will be cheaper in the long run to spend a little more and get a bike that suits your needs. A good bike shop will be able to help choose a bike that fits you. Here is a little reading you can do to prepare yourself to answer questions from the bike shop staff.

    BIKE FITTING

    Explain to the folks at the bike shop how much you have to spend and ask that they set you up with something in your price range. They will be more likely to want to help you get the right bike than the folks at *Mart because the local bike shop wants repeat business and they know you will be back if they make you happy.
    Ask around at your Pilates class and see if there are any bike riders that can help you shop. It sometimes helps to have someone there who can advise you.
    Make sure you let us know what you buy and check in with progress reports on your rides and Welcome to the forum.

    Dogbait

  8. #8
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    Old hand at cycling, but I'm relatively new to the forum as well. Just wanted to welcome you. I don't have anything to add other than what has already been said by others above -- it's all good advice.

  9. #9
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Missy C,
    You've plenty of advice here to start. Welcome to BF. Keep us posted on your progress towards getting a bike and your first few rides. I agree that cycling should always be fun first...although your interest in it and your expectations may evolve in surprizing ways. Hope to read your posts.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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  10. #10
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    Wow, great advice and suggestions! I am glad I happened in here.

    I will check out the bike stores and look for service-oriented deals. I had a feeling that the advice would be to put a little more money into something with more quality. I am a pretty firm believer that you get what you pay for!

    I do want this to be a safe and positive experience, and the roads are definitely less than favorable the minute I leave the subdivision with very little space off the road, which means I will be playing in the traffic. I am also going to be riding alone much of the time, so I definitely don't want to get a few miles from home and break down. I have a feeling, knowing me, that I will love it and, as mentioned, become addicted and start venturing out further. There are some nicer subdivisions a couple miles from here that have bike trails.

    That's funny, I was talking to a guy in cosmetics at Walmart that told me they could put the bike together for free in a very short time, and I had images of my wheels popping off and my brakes going out because something wasn't assembled properly.

    I'm sure I can do upkeep myself once I have read the manual and someone has shown me. I'm pretty good about stuff like that. I'm willing to put out what it takes to keep the bike in tip-top shape as well.

    I can see I have a lot to learn. We have some real brainless idiots driving our subdivision and the nearby areas. I guess they are everywhere. They have already plowed down my cat just a block away and killed her. I've also had to jump off the side of the road while walking to the store to avoid getting plowed down myself. They speed, peel out, drive drunk. The list goes on. I will have to be very alert and read up on all the safety tips I can get a hold of.

    I appreciate all of your input, and am open minded to all suggestions. The magazines and cycling clubs/partners is a great idea too. I'd considered a recumbent bike, but I just can't see doing all that work and going nowhere. lol. I am bored to death on a treadmill for the same reason. Besides, when you work at home, you really need to get out and get some fresh air or you end up in a real rut, which is what I'm in. ugh..

    I'll keep you updated as to what I find out this weekend at the local shops. Next stop, Yellow Pages.

    I trust you all know your business. It's been years "many" since I rode a bike, and I recall not enjoying it because I was on someone else's bike "a racer" that was way too much bike for me, and I was trying to ride it on dirt/gravel off the road on medians dodging traffic and stones, which if too big, would catch the wheel and toss me. I was very athletic in my younger days though. I know my body will hate, then appreciate, then crave cycling!

    I, of course, want all the little extras too, i.e., correct clothing and shoes, lights and reflectors, emergency kits....Where I'll keep it is beyond me. Looks like the living room right now?!

    Wish me luck. I will look for fit, quality, service and make sure the bike is suited to my needs. The bike shops might even let me take it for a spin first!!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missy C
    That's funny, I was talking to a guy in cosmetics at Walmart that told me they could put the bike together for free in a very short time, and I had images of my wheels popping off and my brakes going out because something wasn't assembled properly.
    Go with your gut instincts here. :-)

  12. #12
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missy C
    Where I'll keep it is beyond me. Looks like the living room right now?!
    I live alone, and rent a two bedroom townhouse without a garage. Didn't bother me too much to find a spot on a living room wall to park my Trek 3900 MTB. But then we brought my daughter's bike here where she'll get more use out of it. Okay, there's sort of a back wall in the large dining room where it can sit. But then along came another kid's bike I picked up, hoping to entice my other daughter to join us on rides. It can sort of squeeze in by the other one in the dining room. So far, so good, I suppose. But yesterday I picked up another (used) bike to have as a "beater" for errands and such. I have no idea where it's going to go.

    So, I went from none to four in seven months and there's no let up in sight. I'm already toying -- JUST TOYING, PEOPLE! -- with picking up another El Cheapo so I can tear it down and put it back together to learn bike mechanics. That will make five, and I'll need a bike repair stand as well.

    You might want to rethink this cycling thing, Missy. Just a warning!!!
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  13. #13
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Once you have your bike, helmet, and gloves (protect your hands)...other gear falls in place as you perceive the need. There's lots of collective knowledge here and some good sense, too.........and more-than-willingness tp share it 8-). Comfort and intuitive alertness for traffic comes as you gather some miles. A mirror (eyeglass, helmet, or handlebar mounted) can be a help. Learning to ride straight while glancing back also comes.

    And definitely take those bikes for a spin first...insist they pick out a suitable size and they adjust it to your body proportions to get the best impressions of any models you try.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
    .

  14. #14
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Missy-Welcome to our party!! You will find that there are many of us who have traveled down the same path you're hopefully going to go down. Riding a bike is a great way to get some excercise and enjoy it at the same time!!

    Like others have suggested, I would suggest going by a good LBS that has hybrids, mountain bikes, etc that you can put your hands on and see if there's something that would work for you. With that information you can begin looking on the internet and get even more information.

    I'm in NC (Charlotte area) and could possibly provide some advice on Local Bike Shops near you to check out. If you'd rather not share the closest "larger town" near you in SC I completely understand. However, if you are in the upstate there are several excellent shops you could drop by and ask questions.

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    Too late, I'm already psyched! I'm already window/screen shopping for clothes and shoes. Ha...

    I am pretty amazed at the prices of some of the bikes. I have a feeling that you have a higher-end cycle if you have to get a "beater" for the routine stuff, probably a lot of you do, eh? My husband has no idea what's in store..lol. He may regret that offer a couple months ago of, "hey, why don't we get some bikes?" Of course, it was just a fleeting thought for him. He works in the medical field and works long hours. I, on the other hand, am seriously looking for a new form of exercise that will get me out of the house, and I have chosen this because it is a lot more realistic "in my mind" than jumping around in an aerobics class or trying to twist myself into a pretzel. It's something I can conceivably do for years to come and not a trendy waste of money.

    I am a little frightened at where this could lead actually! I'm already, just after signing on here, planning on about $100 more than I started with. If they let me make payments, the amount could increase yet again. I've already given myself a cycling allowance each pay day, and I don't even have a bike yet.

    I am sitting here contemplating rearranging my living room, so it has a new safe and dry home where I can fiddle with it. I can just imagine your dining room! lol. Also, this probably is a great family activity/sport. I don't have children, but it really sounds like a great thing to do. Who doesn't like to ride a bike? The kids probably love your passion.

    Btw, I was reading on the article mentioned above for getting the right fit. Do they really do all that at a bike store for you? That's pretty awesome if they do.

    Also, should I get shoes after the bike? It looks like shoes are made for different bikes?

    I have a lot of reading to do here, so I've upgraded my membership here off the bat. More than happy to actually. I'm a rather methodical thinker, and I want to know everything about everything. My passion has been computers, but I'm burnt out, and I think that's about to change in a big way.

    Hey, I'm already lonely riding my bike...lol. Contemplating where and how to find some girls to ride with. I don't really know anybody here. I've been stuck in my office like a prisoner for three years now. My husband called, and I rattled on about all the advice and my decision to go with a local bike store. I was talking about reflectors and lights and city ordinances, which I've yet to look up, and he said, "you're not planning on riding after dark are you?" Ahhh, yeah. Maybe morning, noon and night if I get the right bike. I think I'm scaring him!

    Yes, I can see where this could become a real obsession! I did read though that previous MI (myocardial infarction) patients can lessen their risks of another heart attack by up to 50% by cycling a few miles a day. I could probably lower my cholesterol, lose some weight, build muscle, and improve my achy knee syndrome. Heck, that alone is worth the price of admission!

    The only drawbacks I see at this time is the weather here in the summer. It gets extremely hot and humid for months at a time. I'm sure there are helpful gadgets for that though.

    I think my doc and cardiologist will be very pleased with my decision! I will have to read on and see what health benefits people in my age group have experienced. I suppose this would be the time to quit smoking too.

    Can't wait to get let loose in the bike store! Zoom, zoom..

  16. #16
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    Hi ippie. I'm enjoying the party and have a feeling I will be around for awhile.

    I live in Goose Creek, SC, which is about 15 miles north of Charleston. It's a fair-sized town. Have you heard of it? North Charleston is the next larger town.

    While I'm here, I'm just wondering; does the mountain bike kind of "lag" on the good roads because of the "all-terrain-type" tread? I'll probably look back and laugh at my use of cycling jargon, but that's the best I can do right now..lol. Do you know what I mean?

  17. #17
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missy C

    Also, should I get shoes after the bike? It looks like shoes are made for different bikes? Zoom, zoom..
    Okay, now I'm going to save you some money (at first). Don't buy shoes. I ride wearing running shoes (sneakers) on what are called platform pedals -- the same kind of pedals you remember from being a kid. Later on, you can get into bike shoes if you want, but you don't need them to start. Truly. I've ridden 1,300 miles since June (which sounds like a lot but isn't compared with *some* people I know...lol) and I haven't had a problem.

    Later you can get straps or go clipless but for now just ride in tennis shoes. Others may disagree, but it's worked for me. Most likely, the bike you'll end up with will have platform pedals anyway.
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    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    The fit on a "road" bike (You might know them as a "RACER/10-speed") is much more delicate and precise than the fit required for a mtn bike, comfort bike or a hybrid. The article was primarily aimed at road bikers.

    BTW, 10 speeds have changed to 30 speeds.

    You can put "slicks" on a mtn bike - in fact you SHOULD, unless you are going to go barreling down narrow single track trails. They work well, and are much faster.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member edp773's Avatar
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    If you decide to go with a mountain bike, Trek has one for $219 list, have the shop swop out the knobby tires for slicks. These will have a smoother center on the tire for riding on the rode.
    I started riding a bicycle again last May and it has really lowered my blood pressure. Good luck and enjoy.
    Born Again Bicyclist! I found my Faith.

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    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Biking shoes have stiffer soles to avoid "hot spots" on the bottom of your feet from pressure points. You can wear them without cleats or without using toe clips.

    But, for now, tennis shoes are fine.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 12-27-05 at 10:14 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missy C
    Too late, I'm already psyched! I'm already window/screen shopping for clothes and shoes. Ha...
    Ok, time for some money saving tips on gear and accessories before your old man comes huntin us.

    For gear and accessories there are lots of online sources that can save you some money.

    Nashbar - http://www.nashbar.com/ is one, they also have a selection of returned items.

    Performance Bike - http://www.performancebike.com/ they actually own Nashbar, but the two sites carry different items.

    J&G Cyclewear - http://www.bicycleclothing.com/ these folks carry great rain gear and cycling shorts - made by cyclists for cyclists, at better costs than some of the high-dollar stuff you find in Nashbar, Performance, REI, MEC or most LBS

    Harris Cyclery - http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/index.html the home of Sheldon Brown, you can learn a lot about cycling and bicycles from Sheldon's writings. They also carry some items that are hard to find elsewhere.

    Then of course there is EBay, you can find some pretty good deals there, but DON'T GET HOOKED

    Another good information resource is Ken Kifer's Bike Pages - http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/ Ken is no longer with us, but his writing about cycling has helped and inspired a lot of people, including me.

    And of course you've already found another great resource - Bike Forums - lots of great people here who will answer your questions - and sometimes even give you good answers! (joke)
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    EDP, I am very happy to hear your BP has gone down! That's fantastic! I think anytime you can decrease the need for more medication, it's a good thing!

    My BP already runs fairly low, last check was 112/70. I do have to take BP meds though for heart health for the rest of my life. My bigger problem is cholesterol, which is my inheritance I guess. I am having levels drawn on 01/12/06, so at least I will have a good reference for "before and after" adding cycling to my daily "to do" list. I am hoping to decrease the need for cholesterol meds altogether eventually with exercise and better food choices, therefore of course, decreasing the risk of another MI.

    Congratulations on the lower scores, and keep up the good work!

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    Chip, thanks for the links. I've bookmarked them, and I have about half of Ken's site read. I intend to finish reading his site and suggestions before I get out on the road. What a horrible and senseless loss! He really was passionate about riding, and I am glad that the site is still up and being maintained!

    I am a big Ebay fan, and I had already did a search there and found a couple new clothing items I have my eye on. I've been hooked on Ebay for some time now.

    Thanks again for the helpful links and taking the time to post them. I have a new folder started for cycling links, and I won't forget where the first ones came from!

    Also, I wanted to note that I had my eye on that very bike at KM that you linked to. I had looked at the online Marts before going to WM, but something told me to hold off and talk to people who knew what was up first.

    I am definitely going with the locals and will spend a little more to get a good safe bike.

  24. #24
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    Looks like you've gotten some great advise so far. I'll add just a few things. A very good hybrid bike to consider is the Trek 7200. It can be had for about $350. That this is beyond your current budget but can be justified by the fact that you'll not have to upgrade as soon, if at all, and this bike is built well enough to last you for years. It's one notch down from the Trek 7300 which gives you higher quality components for an extra $70 or so. Another benefit is that it can only be purchased new from a bike shop. A reputable shop will make sure that the bike is properly put together and that it fits you.
    Getting started with biking and you'll find that the bike is only part of the start up cost. As you wander the isles of the local bike shop(LBS) you'll want to buy one of everything. Quickly divide the start up gear into two groups, necessary and not necessary. Team Discovery Channel Jersey for $100, not necessary. Helmet, necessary. Giro Pneumo helmet for $140, not necessary. You don't need bicycle clothing or shoes to start. These things will make cycling more enjoyable but the aren't needed to start. In fact, until you figure out exactly how much and what type of riding your going to do, buying these things is a waste of money. Once you're into it you'll figure out what you need and that's when you should buy it. Plenty of people ride in street clothes and will never need more.
    If you're reading this you're on the web and the web is the answer to all your biking needs including finding people to ride with. Google bicycle clubs in your state. Once you have a list of clubs in your area go thru their web site to get a feel for what kind of group they are. Contact clubs that look interesting and are friendly to new riders. Most clubs are, but some aren't. You want to ride with people who are at your level of riding. Don't be afraid to try more than one club to find the right combo of rides and people you like.
    Lastly, you'll find that bicycling isn't good exercise. Yeah, your body is getting an aerobic workout, your burning calories and building muscle mass but it's just so darn much fun that it can't possibly be classified as exercise.
    I'm just trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  25. #25
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    Thanks Tom.

    I will go in looking for the Trek, and I will veer away from the lisles of ''stuff'' and just go for the safety basics. My stepmother just told me of a new bike star, a large one, that opened last week. She knows the location but not the name, so I'll find out Saturday what they are about.

    Laying the foundation with a decent bike and safety items will be my priority. Like you say, I can get clothes p.r.n. Besides, I have workout clothes that look like cycling clothes and serve the purpose.

    If I spot a really good deal, I will also be patient and wait till the following pay day to purchase. I could afford maybe $400 if I wait two more weeks.

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