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  1. #1
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    Advice on starting AND keeping going

    I have been a lurker on the forums for a while now. Got interested in biking as a form of realistic exercise for me after a business visit out of state. The person I met with began spontaneously to talk excitedly about biking as great exercise. He had been biking during his lunch hours and had lost a good amount of weight and was in great shape. Well, he planted a seed.
    Then, here in Florida, you see people out on their bikes all the time. And they all seem pretty lean.
    Well, all of this was I guess an attention step to me to get going on something physical. I am not a runner, and walking is just plain boring. I have never been a great athelete. Did some baseball and hockey, but nothing major or extensive. Best shape I ever was was in the military. That was some time ago. I did compete in ***** and ****** competion both in and out of the military, but that was also some time back also, and not particularly physical.
    The long and short of it is, I need desperately to get into shape. My main question is not how to start but how to keep going. At my age, the "inner wimp" seems to be talking louder than ever. And, having never been an atheletic type, I have nothing to fall back on by way of experience.
    At the risk of sounding foolish, what mental gymnastics, goal planning, or whatever have you folks used to keep the process going?
    I have been blessed to have stayed healthy for these many years, but I know I cannot rely on that grace much longer. I am in my mid fifties, and definitely a clydesdale. I am looking at biking as a form of exercise and weight loss.
    My biggest issue is discipline and consistency. Any thoughts, ideas, or things that worked for you would be greatly appreciated.
    By the way, I appreciate and admire the camaraderie on this particular forum. Some of the other forums can get quite contentious, but you folks are always willing to help and encourage. It is appreciated.

  2. #2
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    At the risk of sounding overblown, here's a bit of advice I've found helpful when in a situation like yours:

    "What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

    Just start and see how it goes. If cycling really is for you, my guess is that you won't need that much discipline. The riding is its own reward and a great escape from chores around the house, job pressures, etc. If I may offer one more tip, don't compare you self with anyone else. Go at a pace and a distance you feel good about.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  3. #3
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    >>> what mental gymnastics, goal planning . . . discipline and consistency . . . thoughts, ideas, or things that worked

    Hey Bigrider! Welcome!

    Wow. You've pretty much defined the 'Problem Space' as one of my bosses once said. Hmmmm, let’s see here. . .

    Reading your post, seems you have everything you need. I’ll add:

    1. TAKE THAT 'INNER WIMP' OUT BEHIND THE CORN CRIB AND STRANGLE HIM. If you're going outside under God's-Own-Sky, you're gonna' look foolish, fall off stuff, make someone angry, get scuffed up.

    2. Now, here’s the tough part. Every day GET UP AND GET STARTED. Can’t personally chuck you out the door, but I can tell you that on a given day [no matter the cold, wet, humidity, heat] if you can once get yourself moving, the battle with yourself is won. If you’re of European origin, then the Pleistocene Ice Ages are your birthright, rejoice in the cold. You’re already wet on the inside, get wet on the outside, too. Heat? Humidity? Strip down!! [Think Jacques Cousteau. . .now there was a stripped down old man.]

    3. I’m not a ‘Goal Guy’. For me, the charm is knowing that I’m going OUTSIDE WHERE WE BELONG. The sky, the critters n’ birds, the seasons, all that. Same thing with discipline. . .don’t have that prticlr’ gene.

    4. IMHO, you need more than goals. You NEED AN EMOTIONAL REASON TO BE OUT THERE!

    5. But if you need a goal how’s this? Get into the kind of shape where a person half your age takes a second look and thinks, ‘DAMN, MAYBE WHEN I’M 60, I CAN GET ME ONE OF THOSE!’

    6. Get hold of the BEST BIKE YOU CAN AFFORD. The pure joy of motion of a good rig is a big part of staying with it. A good fit is essential. If you’re in pain, you won’t stay with it.

    7. MIX IT UP WITH OTHER ACTIVITIES. Important. Run [or like me, lumber], hike, etc.

    8. CHECK IN HERE AT THE 50+ FORUM for support.

  4. #4
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    At the risk of sounding overblown, here's a bit of advice I've found helpful when in a situation like yours:

    "What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

    Just start and see how it goes. If cycling really is for you, my guess is that you won't need that much discipline. The riding is its own reward and a great escape from chores around the house, job pressures, etc. If I may offer one more tip, don't compare you self with anyone else. Go at a pace and a distance you feel good about.
    +1

    For most people, long-term, any "exercise" that someone does must be MORE than exercise, or they will simply not continue it.

    The action of doing exercise must become secondary to the qualities inherent in the "gestalt" of what is being done.

    For me, that is inner peace as I ride, the exhiliration of accomplishment and improvement, the absolute freedom of controlling where and how I ride, the solitude when I want it.

    For others, it might be the conviviality of riding with a group of fellow bicyclers, or working towards, training and winning a race.

    Whatever it is that is inherent in the activity that one does it MUST be "more" than "exercise." For most of us, "exercise," in and of itself is eventually deadly.

    The exercise needs to grab hold of you. Bicycling has that characteristic rather prominently.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    You may want to see if there is a touring club in your area. Most middle to large areas have them, and generally the members are a great bunch of people. In many cases these clubs have beginner rides, bicycle riding technique classes, wrenching classes, etc. It helps to not be out there, all alone, especially at the beginning, and a club can be a great resource. If you don't have a touring club, many bike shops schedule group rides, etc. You may want to check with them.

    You'll be amazed how fast you gain strength, lose weight, and start racking up the miles (if you stick with it). Soon, you'll be looking forward to that next ride, dreaming about a new bicycle and posting photos of your new love on this site! Good luck, cycling is great fun, life is short, enjoy! OHB

  6. #6
    Elite Fred mollusk's Avatar
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    Some suggest to buy as much bike as you can afford, but I wouldn't do that straight away. There are many types of riding and different types of bikes for each. If I were you I'd get a servicable used bike and just start riding keeping it short and slow at first. It doesn't matter if it is a road bike or an MTB or a hybrid, just get out and spin the cranks. Depending on where you live you might be able to buy find a used bike store. They can help you with fit which is very important. Slowly increase you mileage (no more than a 10% increase per week) and don't worry about speed for a couple of months. Now you will have some time on a bike and have a feel for what you want. If you are still enjoying it and know what you want, then go get that expensive bike. You can always keep the "beater" for running errands and foul weather riding.
    I'm the world's forgotten boy. The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy.

  7. #7
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    The motivation for me is my health, and that's what I try and think of when I'm pedaling because there sure isn't any joy in it for me. I'm a Chiropractor, and regularly see people suffering from conditions that could have been prevented by eating right and exercising. I've followed a healthy diet for years, but have recently suffered from adding a few extra pounds in my mid forties (I'm "only 46, but can relate to the midset of this group better than most of the others). Exercise was the next step, and a mountain bike was the answer for me now as karate was when I was younger. Thinking of what would happen to me if I didn't exercise allows me to keep pedaling, along with remembering how good I do feel when I stop!

  8. #8
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no motor?
    The motivation for me is my health, and that's what I try and think of when I'm pedaling because there sure isn't any joy in it for me
    Could you tell us a bit more about why you find no joy in bicycling?
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    My son once told me of a dream that he had. He was in this huge space that was all white and he was able to fly and move about with ease. Sounds mystical but riding a nice bike especially one way beyond your capabilities is like soaring way above your customary existence. At times it can take your breath away like going downhill at 40 mph. I imagine that's what the snow boarders and skiers feel. Then at times your feel your zone where you go fast but almost effortlessly. Only the helmet vents will gently whisper to you how fast your are really going. Then there's the uphill battle. I call it the battle between good and evil. But you're the author of this ride and the Lord of your chain rings.

  10. #10
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    bigrider

    I started cycling about 4 years ago for strictly health reasons, had just turned 50 and had lost 30 lbs. by stationary biking and changing some eating habits. hit a major plateau and took to the local bike paths with a Raleigh SC 40 comfort bike. I absolutely fell in love with it and have progressed far beyond anything I thought I'd accomplish! Being in Florida gives the opportunity to ride almost every day and as has been stated by others, the stress relief and peace of mind is as much a motivation as the physical. Keep at it and as you see improvement, you'll hopefully look forward to your daily rides as a personal and necessary part of your life. Good luck!

    madli (now ride a Gunnar Sport & Zanotti Cyclocross 150-200 miles a week)

  11. #11
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    I got motivated by joining in something - in my case, a charity ride from London to Paris in July 06.

    I haven't cycled since I was a schoolkid. It's scary... weather here is poor and London drivers are not known for either patience or courtesy. Got a bike off e-bay for next to nothing (Peugeot road bike 1980's), feels all wrong - narrow slick tires, unnatural drop bars, hard ride - but the enthusiasm is buidling.

    I WILL be riding down the Champs Elysees in July.

    Good luck.

  12. #12
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigrider
    At the risk of sounding foolish, what mental gymnastics, goal planning, or whatever have you folks used to keep the process going?
    Also non athlete. Running hurts knees too much and swimming is too hard on joints, walking is toooo boring.

    What I did to get started:
    1. reviewed risk tables of sedentary life style and then asked if I really wanted to spend years of life disabled
    2. reviewed health with doctor and got his opinion of what my life would be like in 5, 10, 20 years with no changes.
    3. got blood work with HDL numbers.

    Reviewed exercise options in a table:
    A- activity, B-time necessary for "work out", C- my emotional reaction to this activity type, D- list plusses of this activity, E- list of negatives of this activity, F- realistic estimate of how long I could continue activity based on my past history.

    For me it was a no brainer, the only activity I did not mind was bicycling.


    What I did to keep going:
    1. had to invest some money into bike. I couldn't keep riding with a $20 or $30 garage sale bike. I did that twice and never road because I invested little in bikes and $20 is no big deal. Pick your level of investment where because you put money into this bike thingy, you now have to recoup your investment. For me it was a $1k bike. Neither top of the line nor a bottom dweller.

    2. my second biggest problem was the time needed to ride. Beside hating exercising, I hate taking out the time for fun stuff to do horrible painful stuff like exercising. I finally figured out if I commuted by bike [cyclocommute] I would save a bunch of time vs driving and going to a gym and riding the stationary bikes.

    3. Besides getting out in the air, I get a charge out of both improving my physical conditon and going faster. So I keep track of each day's ride and chart the speeds and number of days riding this year vs last year. Naturally some quarters I am faster and some are slower, but there is a slow climb in the speed line. This is a huge motivator for me.

    4. Get the right riding gear so I can comfortably ride in temps from 20F to 110F.

    5. Jump on the forum daily for a year to keep my enthusiasm up.

    Hope this helps and some of this is useful to you.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  13. #13
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    There's lots of good reasons and motivations to ride a bike out there. Mine is simply to connect with my 'inner kid.' Someday I'll grow up and quit having so much fun, but in the meantime, don't bother me until after recess.

  14. #14
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    There's little to add to the excellent responses already given, but I will say that the OP reminds me of me less than a year ago.

    I took the plunge with an inexpensive mountain bike (thinking I could/would do both trails and roads), and my first ride of 5 miles was TOUGH. But, as several people pointed out, what absolutely floored me was the FUN. I'd completely forgotten how much fun riding a bike can be.

    After that, it was ride for the fun, and set some goals, and see what could happen. I'm no athlete and never was. I've quit more exercise programs than Carter has liver pills, after the initial enthusiasm wore off. I maintain a $99 a year gym membership simply because it's cheaper than starting all over again somewhere, but i hardly ever go to the gym.

    But that inexpensive bike (I didn't want to spend too much in case I quit this too) has been a blast. In the beginning, I'll admit there were days when I had to talk myself into getting out there. But they are few and far between now -- in fact, it's the opposite. I'm cranky when I don't get to ride.

    I've pleasantly surprised myself at what I've been able to do, like "ride my age in miles for my birthday," and I'm far healthier now than I've been in a long time -- BUT -- for me, it's still all about the FUN factor, for the most part. Swooping, gliding, riding no hands, exploring new neighborhoods, wearing myself out on a long weekend ride, all of it is fun. I'm a kid again, on my faithful steed.

    So...I guess I did have something to add afterall! Anyway -- just get started, hang out in this forum, and have FUN!
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  15. #15
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    Bike commute.

    Use some form of daily training plan.


    Bike commuting is a lot easier to do than you might think. There is plenty of how-to help available on this forum. In terms of using a training plan, there are lots of different ways to do that, from how-to books and guides, to personal or online coaching, or via training programs that you can develop online. (I got started in cycling training using the suggested training schedules from a book - Lance Armstrong's Seven Weeks To The Perfect Ride.) There are also online training and coaching applications that allow you to interactively set your own goals, come up with a weekly training plan and upload and track your results. For example, you can get a Polar heart rate monitor/cycling computer that integrates with their Personal Trainer web service.

    If you are a geek, the latter approach is actually pretty fun because it integrates your PC, software applications, and online mileage and fitness data into your routine. More than anything else a weekly training plan has helped me to stay commited and motivated.

    Good luck with whatever you do. Keep us posted.

  16. #16
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Could you tell us a bit more about why you find no joy in bicycling?
    Because of the strenuous effort it takes to pedal off road tires on the street in the cold while I'm building my endurance. I feel great when I get done pedaling, but not during, and have lost the 10 pounds I wanted to (and over 1% body fat) in the 2 months I've been doing this. I'd love to feel the shear joy and connectedness I feel when riding my motorcycle that so many of you have written about when writing about your bicycles and figure that any of that would be an added benefit. I'm hoping that by the time the warmer weather arrives in Chicago I'll have more endurance and loose less efficiency to the cold and experience some of that joy, but will continue to pedal for the health benefits regardless of the fun.

  17. #17
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no motor?
    Because of the strenuous effort it takes to pedal off road tires on the street in the cold while I'm building my endurance. I feel great when I get done pedaling, but not during, and have lost the 10 pounds I wanted to (and over 1% body fat) in the 2 months I've been doing this. I'd love to feel the shear joy and connectedness I feel when riding my motorcycle that so many of you have written about when writing about your bicycles and figure that any of that would be an added benefit. I'm hoping that by the time the warmer weather arrives in Chicago I'll have more endurance and loose less efficiency to the cold and experience some of that joy, but will continue to pedal for the health benefits regardless of the fun.
    I can relate to that! I rode my mtb with knobbies for 800 miles, including a metric century. Finally I switched out to slicks, and the difference was amazing. Have you already done this? If not, get thee some slicks and your fun factor may kick in sooner than you think!
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  18. #18
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    I can relate to that! I rode my mtb with knobbies for 800 miles, including a metric century. Finally I switched out to slicks, and the difference was amazing. Have you already done this? If not, get thee some slicks and your fun factor may kick in sooner than you think!
    I haven't done it yet because I've been getting healthy without them. I've explored a lot of the areas around my new condo I haven't walked to yet, and am having to venture farther each ride to find new places. I wanted to try some of the crushed gravel trails around here with the knobbies before I took them off too, and haven't felt secure enough to venture quite that far away from home yet. But I think some smoother tires are in my future, it's just a matter of when.
    And thanks for the advice - I've gotten a lot of great advice from this group that have made my efforts easier. It wouldn't be the same without you.

  19. #19
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Bigrider

    What a response you have got, all with different reasons on why people ride. I know in my case- I used to be one of the Ultra-fit people that do turn up occasionally, but a 10 year lay off and a 100yd chase of my 10 year old daughter up the road made me realise that I had lost it. A chance meeting with a friend that rode and out came the old Apollo 10 speed mountain type bike, and I started on the trail to retaining what fitness I had.

    That was 15 years ago. I was not overweight then, although I have put on a few lbs in the years, but I did get my fitness back. Those first 3 or 4 years were hard though. I was trying to stay with people fitter than me- had a bit more youth on their side, and had better bikes than me. I perservered though, and if a ride got hard- I would slow down. If a hill got steep- I would walk. I also found out by starting with a cheap old bike what sort of riding I liked(Mountain Biking) so when finances permitted I upgraded the bike to a better one. Many bikes later, a couple of major health scares and I am still riding.

    If you can find a few other people to ride with, it will motivate you to keep riding. If you can't then start riding- Anywhere. Take it easy for a month or so and do it on a regular circuit of 5 or so miles. When it gets easier (NOT EASY) increase the milage. Try to set a regular day and time to ride and if possible do it 2 or 3 times a week. You will have to force yourself to get on the bike and ride but after a couple of months you will start feeling the benefits. Then is the time you can say the body is getting toned, the weight has come down a bit and that hill you found on the first ride is just a gentle slope.

    I do not envy you for trying to start riding- the pain you will go through will hurt, but the benefits are there for all of us to see in our own riding. By the way- we are not all 200mile a week at 25mph riders. Some of us just do it because we enjoy it, but we also enjoy the side benefits that riding has bought to us.

    One of the reasons I like this forum is exactly as you have noted. There is a camaraderie with this group, so hopefully we can get you on the road to getting fit for your birthday ride which is?????
    Last edited by stapfam; 03-03-06 at 11:28 AM.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    I second all the responses.

    I used to run (begrudgingly). I was never a good runner, and felt a little like "no motor" - it felt great when I stopped, but other than one period when I was doing high mileage (many moons ago), it was "exercise". I played weekend soccer for about 15 years which was fun, but it always took me a few days to recover (i.e., walk normally without pain). My wife has always been a runner (she is more gifted than I at this), and started having stress fractures and got into cross training. From cross training, it was sprint triathalons, but she wasn't knowledgable about bikes, so encouraged me to join her. I bought a road bike. That was a few years ago now. It really took hold, and my only regret is that I didn't (re)discover this sport 20 years earlier.

    For me, it is just plain fun. And after a few months, I couldn't believe what better shape I was in. Throw in stories about people from Lance Armstrong to John Sinibaldi and I realized what a rich subculture this is. Also learned some basics about wrenching and currently building up a bike from a bare frame. Unlike running, I regret when the ride ends. And unlike soccer, I can not only walk the next day - I want to go for another ride! (And not to dis my soccer chums, but cyclists are overall a more interesting lot of folks). AND my spouse shares it with me.

    But just because it floats my boat doesn't mean it will float yours. Part of it may be remembering my youth when I rode every day because my bike was my trusty steed and the way to the rest of the world. But I have to say that modern road bikes are quite an inspiration, too. For me, riding a mountain bike on the roads doesn't come close; road bikes these days just fly!

    Just ride for fun and the benefits will follow.

  21. #21
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    You don't need to motivate yourself to ride. You ride because it's really fun. Ride with friends, share your common interests. Join a club and ride with prople your speed and then later, as you gain confidence, ride with people who are a bit faster.

    Al

  22. #22
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no motor?
    Because of the strenuous effort it takes to pedal off road tires on the street in the cold while I'm building my endurance. I feel great when I get done pedaling, but not during, and have lost the 10 pounds I wanted to (and over 1% body fat) in the 2 months I've been doing this. I'd love to feel the shear joy and connectedness I feel when riding my motorcycle that so many of you have written about when writing about your bicycles and figure that any of that would be an added benefit. I'm hoping that by the time the warmer weather arrives in Chicago I'll have more endurance and loose less efficiency to the cold and experience some of that joy, but will continue to pedal for the health benefits regardless of the fun.
    You can do gravel trails on slicks (mtn bike road tires) of 1.5x26 or larger with no problem. I do them all the time. (even today!)

    I am glad you have made progress in losing weight and building endurance - but now ease up a bit and enjoy the sheer pleasure for a bit! Or you can combine.

    Today I found the absolute steepest hills I could find, and went up and down them in the mtn bike in low-low range. What a blast! I got my heart rate up to over 150 (I am 66yo). Then, I went another 15 miles on an easy ride on the trail.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  23. #23
    Member Dakota's Avatar
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    One of the best ways I know is to ask around and join a club. You can find others with the same skill levels and you can keep each other going. It's a great way to meet people and share ideas as well.

  24. #24
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Wow, excellent comments on this thread. I forgot the eye opener for me was when our little dog was being chased and I took off trying to "save the dog" and had to stop panting about 6 houses down the street. Not a fun experience.

    In terms of keeping going, set your expectations right. It won't be fairly easy to ride until you have put somewhere between 500 and 1,000 miles on your bike. If getting into a little shape is discouraging, drop the speed, increase the ease of pedaling. Remind your self you are still flying past the 4-5 mph speed walkers.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  25. #25
    Senior Member Thrifty1's Avatar
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    After a few rides on a bike that rings your bell (regardless of price) you won't have to motivate yourself......the serenity/exhileration of riding will become your motivation.
    The fact that you posted this thread is an excellent beginning....you are on your way to being hooked :>)
    Good Luck and happy bike shopping.
    BCNU
    Gary

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