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  1. #1
    Senior Member Woodlark's Avatar
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    New/Old Biker Looking for advice

    I am just getting into biking at the (almost) age of 65. I did ride in my youth, when I ran a paper route by bicycle. I am recently retired (read as limited income) and need the excercise the biking will provide(due to lack of exercise, I had 5-way bypass surgery last year). At present, I do have a bicycle (a discount store purchase about 4 years ago), a Huffy "Triathlon Pro Iron Man". Sounds impressive anyway! I know it won't meet my needs for long if I get really into biking, but it will at least get me started.

    Most of my riding will be on pavement, with a lot of "in town" riding. Hopefully, as I get more experience and in better physical condition, I will become more adventurous and start riding the back roads outside of town.
    I live in a fairly hilly, but not mountainous area (mountains are less than two hours way) on the South Carolina/Georgia border. I think I would probably want a bike that provides a relatively upright sitting position because of back issues.

    Looking at bikes on the internet, I find the array of different bicycle types almost bewildering and hope the people on this forum can give me some guidance in what type of bike I should be looking for as well as recommend specific brands and models that would be good for me for my next purchase. Also, some help on sizing of the bike would be useful. I am 5'-8" tall with a 29.5" inseam and weigh about 200 lb. (about 25 lb too much).

    I realize that advice is worth what you pay for it, but I can offer my gratitude and friendship in payment.
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  2. #2
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    Not so long ago I was were you are except I did not know the Bike Forum. My Local Bike Shop (LBS) gave me some good advise I think. I bought a Trek Hybrid 7700. It has a more upright sitting position, good gear shifting with Shimano XT, Wheels and tires were Bontrager 700 x 38 and that is good for many road conditions, shocks in front and back to cushion our old bones.
    The good news is that, here I am, many years later, and still love that bike. So I am recommending a Trek Hybrid as high a quality as you can afford (better gear shifts and wheels cost more money).
    There is a newer type of bike around which may suit you. Cyclocross. These are basically road bikes with more room for fatter tires and some have shocks. Trek makes them also. I will soon purchase one of these for my trail biking. These type of bikes are good for our bumpy pavements and great for trails.
    I would not get a typical mountain bike with smaller wheels and knobby tires because it would slow me down too much. If you were to do rough trail biking, these are then required. I just bought a Trek Madone road bike. This bike is a dream in smoothness and weight and speed. However, you do have to bend down to a 45 or 35 degree angle from vertical. So I guess that one is out for you?
    As to sizing a bike. There is nothing better than trying it out. You sound like a size 56 or smaller. I am 6' foot tall and use size 58. Make sure the bike does not feel too big. That is a mistake I made with one bike.
    If I sound like a Trek salesman, I am not. I just had good luck with their products and not such luck with others.

  3. #3
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Welcome. Are in the Lake Hartwell area south of Anderson by chance?

    There are certainly lots of options and some of those folks who have recently gone through a similar experience can probably offer more guidance on equipment available today than me. Be prepared to probably spend a little more than you would probably like to!! If there's a way to get a used bike, you can get a better bike at a much lower cost if price is a huge issue. You might check on some local bike club websites to see what might be for sale????
    Ride your Ride!!

  4. #4
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    I would consider a hardtail mountain bike. They are durable, you can set it up for an upright position, and you can run slicks if you are only going to ride pavement. If you can find a good bike shop that you can trust they will size it for you.

  5. #5
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Even though will dehne sounds modest, he has done rides of over 100 miles in consecutive days, so he is in a different situation than some. Of course a mountain bike would slow him down, he is a rocket.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I think what you're describing is a hybrid, or (if there's a difference) a flat-bar road bike. Google up the Specialized Sirrus line to get an idea of the type. I ride a recumbent, which is very easy on the back, but might not meet your budget criteria.

  7. #7
    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Probably your cheapest reasonable alternative would be to get an entry-level mountain bike, with "slicks" instead of knobby tires.

    I would suggest something like the Specialized Hardrock. Mine has no suspension, but I believe that is now impossible (or almost) to get and some suspension is standard.

    This will do you well for many thousands of miles until you may decide you want to get a more expensive bike such as a road bike.

    You should be able to get an entry level Mtn Bike for about $300-350, and it will be a great big improvement over your current bike. It will also handle your weight just fine.

    Good luck.

    (I will be 67 next month, so you are still just a "young" guy, as I am.)
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  8. #8
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    welcome...

    Sounds like you have the roadie category covered with the Huffy, and if you're looking for a good asphalt bike for urban and potentially rural rides, I'd recommend a "comfort" hybrid. Something like a Trek 7000 wouldn't hurt the budget and its not a bad bike for general, all-round cycling.

    My wife has a Trek 7300 (same frame, upgraded components)...its slow, comfortable, a nice bike to ride around town (she put on a carrier and panniers to use when running errands).

    For country rides, we both have flat hybrids (fitness bikes)...they're lighter, geared for faster rides, but not as comfortable as the big hybrids

    If the surgery was recent, you may want to ease into it slowly (something I learned from a friend's experience)

  9. #9
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Test ride a Specialized Seqouia. A friend got one last year and is just thrilled with it. The tires that come on it are a bit small and narrow for us middle aged folk.
    If you wind up getting it, I suggest having the dealer swap them for Panaracer
    Pasela TG 32c tires. I forget the gearing on that bike, but if the area is hilly, make sure the rear cassette has a low gear of 32 or 34. Your dealer will make these changes as part of the purchase of the bike at a discount.

    After you get the bike, we can talk about helmets, bike shorts, etc.

  10. #10
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    Alot of good thoughts put together here for you and I can't add to them so I will just say welcome to the 50+ forum! Enjoy the ride!!

  11. #11
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Woodlark...welcome. You have plenty of good info above. Glad to have you here, stick around, chip in, and post any questions you might have about bike fit, maintenance, training, your favorite beer, cool riding experiences, etc.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Best experience you will glean from this forum- is to find a good Local Bike Shop. (LBS) These do take some finding- But I have generraly found to stay away from the big chain stores or Wallmart type shops.
    A good LBS will cover all the types of biking we talk about but They also offer good advice to newcomers. If they try and sell you a Full road bike as you ride on pavement without talking to you about Hybrids or Mountain bikes with slicks- Then find another shop.

    My own advice is to use the bike you currently have to get a bit of fitness behind you and to find out if you really like cycling. Then on your rides- talk to a few people about their bikes and the local shops.
    When you can get to a ten mile ride- a respectable distance and just enough to see if you like it- Then get to the LBS to talk bikes. In fact get to a couple. You will find out who is treating you right- who is offereing good advice and who will treat you right in the future.

    Incidentally, several of here that have had Bypasses, so Look at the surgery as a Reconditioned heart that has to be maintained and trained. The heart will take the strain but start building up the body slowly. Don't try for the 10 mile ride this weekend- unless that is what you are already doing.

    For the internet browsing- Several good manufacturers to look at Trek, Giant, Specialised, Marin, Cannondale, Kona,-- all of which do Hybrid bikes that will give you the upright stance. Unfortunately- Sizing can only be made by you on a particular manufacturer as a 17" from Giant will differ from a 17" from Trek etc. Look at standover height initially and allow a few inches clearance from your 29" inseam. I personally ride a 15" Bianchi, a 42cm Giant or a medium in Cannondale. and I have a 30" inseam. BUT with a short body that suits these frames. I can also ride a 17" Trek or an 18" Kona. So Everyones body is different and so are the Manufacturers.
    Last edited by stapfam; 10-25-06 at 02:30 PM.
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  13. #13
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    I started out with a Trek 7200 hybrid when I got back into biking a few years back. It served me very well, but then I got more "into" biking than I expected and had the need for speed. So I got a Giant OCR2 road bike. Then I got intrigued by fixed gear riding so I converted an old Schwinn 12 speed to a fixie. Oy!

    So you never know where this will lead! But a comfortable bike like the Trek 7xxx series hybrids are a good start, and within your price range. The triple chainring and wide range rear gears (cassette) will be helpful on the hills.

    If you think you might want something faster sooner, and care less about a cushy ride, a cyclocross or so called "fitness" bike (several mfrs. make them) with a flat handlebar would be good too. Just to repeat what has been said... I'd only consider a mtn. bike if you want to get into mountain biking, i.e., more "offroad" than a gravel bike path. Otherwise, stick to hybrid, cyclocross or fitness bikes.

    One problem with flat and upright handlebars is the lack of variable hand positions. You can ameliorate this inexpensively and easily by adding "bar ends", mounted so as to face forward, to give you another more "aggressive" position. Being able to change positions is good for the back, and the bod in general.
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  14. #14
    Bikin' and Hikin' RockyTopBiker's Avatar
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    Check out a road bike before you buy

    I am the same age (65 in December) as you and the same height (5'8 30" inseam). My weight is about 155 and I have had some minor back problems. Be sure and check out a road bike before you make your final decision. I have ridden a mountain bike exclusively for about ten years and, like you, thought I would not be comfortable in a leaned over riding position. Since I seemed to be riding 80 percent of the time on pavement, I decided to buy something more suitable. I thought I wanted a hybrid or "flat-bar" road bike but when I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, I ended up buying a drop-handled LeMond road bike. It was amazing how comfortable it was, so far, I'm extremely happy with it. Mountain bikes and hybrids may be more versatile but don't automatically rule out a pure road bike if you are riding exclusively on hard surfaces.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Woodlark's Avatar
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    Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and suggestions. I intend to visit the forum often and will let you know how my progress goes.

    To "jppe": I am in Aiken, SC.
    Earth is the insane asylum of the universe.

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  16. #16
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    Please indulge me and let me share this experience. 15 years ago, 50 years old, 240 lbs.
    I bought four Schwinn Hybrids for me and my family for trail biking and a Schwinn road bike. That added up to about $4,000 which was a significant expense for me then. Why Schwinn? I did not know any better and I thought it was the Chevy of the USA bike industry. (this is before BF)
    The above purchase and biking experience was a disaster. The rotary gear shifts were a constant aggravation. The rolled wheel rims had a shallow curvature which made the inner tube and tire move while going around curves resulting in flats at least one a week (low pressure tires). The Schwinn road bike was a joke. It was more in the shop who sold it to me than anything else. I had no clue what was wrong. In utter frustration I bought a Trek Hybrid 7700. Problems solved. I learned that those Schwinn's were not suitable for 240 lbs guy. Nobody had the nerve to tell me. I had to learn it the hard way.
    Next, I bought a $3,000 Cannondale. Great shifting Ultegra, no flats, fast. Unbelievably harsh ride, one size to big for me, hard to control the ride, unsafe going downhill fast (the LBS got rid of a bike they had in stock. They are no longer in business).
    So here we are, another $2,400 (with tax) Trek Madone. The difference? Night and day.
    I just hate to see a Newbie going too cheap and get turned off on biking permanently. Believe me, I was and I am seriously p*ssed about Schwinn.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Woodlark's Avatar
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    Will,
    I am fascinated by your experience with Schwinn. I would not consider Schwinn anyway because I know they are not the bike they once were. I have owned two Schwinn's in my life. The first, I talked my parents into buying me for Christmas in 1951; it was $75 which was a lot of money for my folks in those days. It was a 3-speed, black with chrome fenders. It was beautiful! Within 6 months, it was stolen from the rack at school (in those days, nobody locked their bikes), and I never saw it again. The second Schwinn was purchased when my son, now 33 years old was a baby. It was a women's model (step-thru frame) with a baby seat on the back. I later gave it to my daughter who continued to ride it up until a couple of years ago. We got close to 30 years usage out of that bicycle.

    Based on what I have learned so far, the Trek 7000 series or some of the Specialized bikes look promising. Also, I had one recommendation (not on this forum) for the Fuji Monterey and would like to hear your comments on that bike.

    I am not by any means ready to buy another bike yet, but I figure it is never too early to start gathering data. Beside, who knows, I might stumble on a really good deal on a used bike, and I want to be prepared.
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  18. #18
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    Woodlark,
    You know, jppe in above post #3 is arguably the most experienced biker. A Pre-Owned bike is a great choice if you are more trusting than I am and more diligent than I am. I have friend who pride themselves in finding these sellers of anything, make the research and get great buys.
    I on the other hand belong to the club: You get what you pay for.
    There is room for all of us.
    Will
    PS:Sorry, I know nothing of Fuji

  19. #19
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    Woodlark,

    I am 55 years old, 5' 7" and 155 lbs. I have some neck problems from an old injury and it is stiff sometimes. I ride a Trek Pilot 2.1 54cm road bike. I love it. I have put about 1500 miles on it. The Pilot's geometry is a more upright sitting position. The seat is almost the same height as the handlebars. The bike is smooth, light and fast with lots of carbon fiber. Check it out.

    Dennis

  20. #20
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Another line to check out is the Trek 7.x series. From a few hundred dollars to about a thousand dollars, these are flat bar bikes, with increasingly better components. Definately worth a test ride.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Woodlark's Avatar
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    I have perused the internet and found a number of bikes that, based on your suggestions, might be good for me. However, at least for my first serious bike, I hesitate to buy online. I have visited two LBS's, one about 4 miles away and one about 20 miles away. The closer one is the smaller of the two and has a very limited selection of bikes. The lady running the shop (she is the only person I have seen working there) recommended a Fuji Crosstown 3.0 (17" frame) for $340. This bike has the following plusses and minuses (IMHO):
    Has fenders + (but adds weight)
    Has kickstand + (but adds weight)
    Has front shocks ? (adds weight)
    Has twist grip shifters - (I just don't like them)
    Heavy (almost 33 lbs)

    The second shop is larger, has a much larger selection of bikes, and had at least 3 or 4 people working there who divided their time between waiting on customers and working on bikes. One of them spent time with me and discussed bike types and sizes with me and showed me examples of each type bike, pointing out its advantages, disadvantages and price ranges. Based on info on this and other forums, I asked bout touring bikes, but the salesman felt that, at least until I get a lot more used to riding, I would be much better of sticking to flat bars. He first showed me a Trek 7200 which I found to be very much like the Fuji (without kickstand and fenders) We also looked at a Specialized and several other bikes. Finally got to a Trek 7.2FX. I really like the setup on the 7.2FX! It has mountain bike type shifters and a rigid front fork (I think I prefer both). It does lose the fenders and kickstand, but I'm sure those are cheap to add if I decide I need them. It weighs about 4 lbs less than the Fuji. The price of the Trek is higher than the Fuji (about $400), but according to the sign in the store, lifetime tuneups are included.

    Neither shop had a bike in my size on the showroom floor, but both had them in stock still boxed and both offered to assemble one for me to try. I am going to ride the Trek on Monday, and if I don't like it (how could I not?), then I will try the Fuji.

    If I really get into ths cycling thing and my back can take it, I can see myself in a couple years buying a touring bike (they had a Bianchi Volpe in the second shop, and I liked it a lot).

    If anyone has any comments about either of these two bikes (or alternatives), I'm listening!
    Earth is the insane asylum of the universe.

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  22. #22
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodlark
    I have perused the internet and found a number of bikes that, based on your suggestions, might be good for me. However, at least for my first serious bike, I hesitate to buy online. I have visited two LBS's, one about 4 miles away and one about 20 miles away. The closer one is the smaller of the two and has a very limited selection of bikes. The lady running the shop (she is the only person I have seen working there) recommended a Fuji Crosstown 3.0 (17" frame) for $340. This bike has the following plusses and minuses (IMHO):
    Has fenders + (but adds weight)
    Has kickstand + (but adds weight)
    Has front shocks ? (adds weight)
    Has twist grip shifters - (I just don't like them)
    Heavy (almost 33 lbs)

    The second shop is larger, has a much larger selection of bikes, and had at least 3 or 4 people working there who divided their time between waiting on customers and working on bikes. One of them spent time with me and discussed bike types and sizes with me and showed me examples of each type bike, pointing out its advantages, disadvantages and price ranges. Based on info on this and other forums, I asked bout touring bikes, but the salesman felt that, at least until I get a lot more used to riding, I would be much better of sticking to flat bars. He first showed me a Trek 7200 which I found to be very much like the Fuji (without kickstand and fenders) We also looked at a Specialized and several other bikes. Finally got to a Trek 7.2FX. I really like the setup on the 7.2FX! It has mountain bike type shifters and a rigid front fork (I think I prefer both). It does lose the fenders and kickstand, but I'm sure those are cheap to add if I decide I need them. It weighs about 4 lbs less than the Fuji. The price of the Trek is higher than the Fuji (about $400), but according to the sign in the store, lifetime tuneups are included.

    Neither shop had a bike in my size on the showroom floor, but both had them in stock still boxed and both offered to assemble one for me to try. I am going to ride the Trek on Monday, and if I don't like it (how could I not?), then I will try the Fuji.

    If I really get into ths cycling thing and my back can take it, I can see myself in a couple years buying a touring bike (they had a Bianchi Volpe in the second shop, and I liked it a lot).

    If anyone has any comments about either of these two bikes (or alternatives), I'm listening!
    From the sound of things- forget the first shop and the Fuji. Twist grip is not many peoples choice for gear changers. And the front forks at this price will be like a pogo stick. For a good set of forks that will work you would pay as much as the whole bike. Then the weight 33lbs is heavy. And as for a kickstand -I am against them- Prone to fall off or come loose or fall into the wheel, and whats wrong with a fence post or wall to stand a bike up against. The tTek- even though it is not a Manufacturer that I would buy- Make good bikes but if possible- look at the Specialised again and one none here would run down is the Sirrus. Now when you start talking about Bianchi- I won't go any further in case I upset people with my enthusiasm.

    Will is right- We do have a problem in when we start riding as we do not know how far we want to get into riding, so do we go cheap or go for something that is a bit better that will not need changing for a few years. Not all of us can go out and buy a $2,000 bike to start with and I think that would be foolish, but the better the bike the better the ride. Not only on comfort as this also depends on fit, but it will ride easier- faster and longer.

    Keep looking but look again at the Bianchi and take a serious think about the Specialised Sirrus.

    Attachment is of my 5 year old Bianchi that will be out again tomorrow and on the same hill. (If you do get a Bianchi-Make certain it is the right colour if possible)
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  23. #23
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    + 1

    Will is the Iron Man of crosscountry travel. If he recommends a bike, believe him cuz he's got 1000's of miles on it to prove it. But he can also cross the US in 29 days on 29 steak dinners, a lb of apples a day and one set of tires...

    But since most of the rest of us are more normal (that's a joke), look around at some of the midrange bikes: Giant makes a good product that's pretty inexpensive ($ 350 - 500). My wife & I started riding on our Giant MTB bikes that we put Armadillo 26" 1.25mm road tires onto and we've ridden all over the place. Extended the stem, raised the seat, etc. etc.

    My suggestion is to get a bike that feels good to you and ride it until you think you want to modify it. Make those mods then ride it some more. As a relative newbie, my experience is that it takes me months of riding short, medium, long distances (4 miles, 20 miles, 56 miles) to get a sense of what changes I want to make or what kind of 'next' bike I think I'll want.

    So, wear out that bike you've already got down to a nub, find all the local bike shops in your area and become a regular customer buying little bits & pieces of equipment, gloves, etc. All the while looking at their bikes and becoming familiar with their attitude toward new cyclists, older riders, etc. When they see your bike, they'll already know you are a potential customer (another joke). My own LBS is a great resource for me, almost as good as Bike Forum.
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  24. #24
    "Purgatory Central" Wino Ryder's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Woodlark]Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and suggestions. I intend to visit the forum often and will let you know how my progress goes.QUOTE]



    Hey "Woodlark", welcome to BF and congratulations on your recent by-pass surgery (you survived it)

    If your cardiologist has given you the green light on cycling, then the advise from the other posters are the way to go. I had by-pass surgery myself, about 9 years ago, and took up cycling 7 years ago because I was bored out of my skull from walking. I'm also diabetic, but thats another "academy award winning" chapter in my life. With all that crap said, take some advise from a fellow member!!

    "Do whatever it takes to make cycling work for you. You will not believe the tremendous benefit you will be doing for your heart, or your arteries if you eat what you're supposed to, and "Cycle". Start off small and work yourself up, but do not let go of it. Make it your new lifestyle, and I dont mean ride around the block once a week either.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Woodlark's Avatar
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    Wing Ryder,
    Thanks for sharing. I also am diabetic and take Byetta ("lizard spit") twice a day.

    centexwoody,
    The difficulty with riding my current bike to the nub is that it is a discount store "one size fits all" and I am not one of the "all" that it fits. Once I learned how a bike is supposed to fit the rider, I checked. When I straddle the frame, there is ZERO clearance between the top tube and certain sensitive parts of me. I measured crank to top of saddle tube and it is 19". Both LBS's recommended no larger than 17.5". My tough decision at this point is between going for flat bars or the type road bikes have. My inclination is to go with the flat until I get into better shape then upgrade to something like the Bianchi Volpe (or "expand my stable" to include a road/touring bike).

    I fully expect a lot of pain from underused muscles and lungs, but I'm actually looking forward to it (with some trepidation).

    BTW stapfam, my wife and I went to the UK for our 40th anniversary two years ago. We rented a narrowboat and spent 2 wonderful weeks on the Shropshire Union and Llangollen canals. Would love to go back and do it again!
    Earth is the insane asylum of the universe.

    Rans Fusion
    Catrike Road
    Bacchetta Cafe'
    Trek 7200 (For Sale)

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