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  1. #1
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    I've forgotten how to ride a bike!

    Hi everyone,
    I'm returning to bicycling after a 20 year absence and boy, lots has changed -- my body, my weight, the bikes . . . (I'm 54)

    I used to ride a Nishiki road bike that I was absolutely in love with. My typical ride was about 20 miles and sometimes longer. But I don't want to ride with dropped handlebars or a men's frame now.

    So today I went to the bike store to check out some comfort bikes. They put me on a Specialist women's bike that was not even sort of adjusted for me. Thankfully the seat was low so I could get my feet on the ground -- but what a rude awakening! I was terrified to start and stop! My legs felt like they were riding a mini clown bike while the handlebars were almost at the same level as my shoulder.

    AND, I don't even know how to shift the new shifters!

    But I wobbled around the parking lot again and again, and even forced myself to try a different Specialist bike (at least this one didn't slip gears). Still terrified, but I wobbled around some more. I had a "I miss my dad!" moment as I longed for someone behind me to help steady me as I started and stopped.

    So I don't know what to do. My inclination is to find an old used bike and re-learn how to ride that -- but nothing will hurt a person faster than poor or badly adjusted equipment. (IMHO)

    I've been comparing bikes on the web, examining frames and trying to see if there is something better for me. I like the look of the hybrid bikes -- the handlebars seem more forward, which feels like a more balanced position.

    Any thoughts on balance here? Or ideas to safely relearn how to ride?

    Thanks a million,

    Old B.

  2. #2
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    Just keep at it. Isn't there an old saying, "It's like riding a bike . . . ."? Some of the new technology can be a bit daunting if you haven't been on a bike for a while, but keep your mind open about drop bars, new shifters, etc. Many, if not most, of the newbies we see here on this forum end up getting a second bike after a very short time as they rediscover the joys of riding. Hang in there. Try lots of bikes. You'll get it . . . again.

    And welcome to the 50+ forum.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    What do you want to do with it? Road or mup? Hours riding or short trips?

  4. #4
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    Hi,
    Thanks for the welcome!

    I'd like ride around town -- streets and park trails. And also some railway trails -- I think they are crushed limestome? No big hills, no long distances.

    After I read the sticky about riding a bike, I am wondering if the high handlebars prevented me from transferring my weight forward, which made it feel difficult/weird to step up on the pedal and then put my butt on the seat. I was trying to start with my rear on the seat, which is just awkward. I would have had to pull myself forward with the high handles, which is difficult because I'm not especially small.

    I will try lots of bikes! I remember when I bought my old Nishiki I tried a number of bikes that didn't seem like a lot of fun. And then I tried the Nishiki and all of a sudden I felt like I was flying. I want that wonderful feeling back.

    Thanks again,
    OldB

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldBroad View Post
    I want that wonderful feeling back.
    That feeling is still out there waiting for you to find it. Keep trying different bikes until you do. Perhaps the old feeling is hiding in a road bike because it sounds to me like a high handlebar comfort bike may not be what you're looking for. You can get womens specific road bikes with flat handlebars.

    Welcome to the 50+ forum.

  6. #6
    King of Dorkistan rraabfaber's Avatar
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    Oh, and go to a different bike shop. If you don't think they tried to fit the bike for you, you're in the wrong place.

    And, yes, the comfort bike is going to feel a bit different for you at first. But part of what feels different is why they call it a comfort bike. If you have hand/wrist problems (numbing, carpal tunnel, etc) that upright position may be what you need. For me personally, as much as I really want to ride a regular MTB, my hands just go numb.

    And like Mojo Slim said (beating me to the punch), there's a reason they say "It's like riding a bike."

    Welcome back to the fold!
    ~~~
    Namaste, y'all
    Rick

    Life is a foreign language; All men mispronounce it.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    It could be simply high handlebars that are causing your problem. Try something configured more like a typical mountain bike with the seat and the bars at approximately the same level. Your weight will be distributed between your arms and your seat, and you won't feel like you're trying to balance on a unicycle.

    About shifting...modern shifters, whether twist-grip or trigger, are a wonderful improvement over what used to be. They're right there at your hands, you don't have to reach for them, and they click into position without you having to fiddle around with them. They make shifting a breeze.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I recommend getting a used bike off Craigslist or similar and riding it for a month.
    That will give you a much better idea of what you want and some "practice time". I know the feeling. I was off a bike for 40+ years!

    With your "moniker", I assume the bike bike shop took the attitude of just sell the old woman a bike (or humor her) and get her out of here. I'd look at a different shop. They can be like bikes, where one just "fits" a lot better.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the great advice everyone. Balancing on a unicycle! Great way to describe it! The weight distribution felt so very wrong.

    I will definitely try a different bike shop. This guy certainly seemed nice enough, but you're right: he just handed me a bike and didn't even really adjust the seat. I picked a time when they weren't all all busy, so it wasn't like he had a zillion other customers to attend to.

    Hmmm. Here's a business idea: Have a bike shop that specializes in the needs of boomers.

    I didn't see anything that looked good on Craigslist, but that can change on an hourly basis. We have some organizations around here that refurbish and sell used/junk bikes to teach kids skills, so that's another option for a decent used practice bike.

    Thanks again,
    Old B.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldBroad View Post
    I will try lots of bikes! I remember when I bought my old Nishiki I tried a number of bikes that didn't seem like a lot of fun. And then I tried the Nishiki and all of a sudden I felt like I was flying. I want that wonderful feeling back.
    It is very likely that the feeling you had on your old road bike of "flying" will only be replicated with another road bike. At least this has been my own personal experience. Given you want to ride limestone trails, I'd make sure that any road bike I looked at was able to accommodate tires between 28 & 32cm wide. As others have said, ride different bikes and make sure to get some time on bikes that have been set up to fit you. A used bike in good condition is not a bad idea. Sometimes the local bike shops (LBS) will sell used bikes on a consignment basis. Remember to ask about this. Good luck and good riding!
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

  11. #11
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    If you don't want drop bars or a hybrid with bars up to your shoulders but you want a women's frame, try the women's model of the Jamis Coda. Great beginner bike (that will last for years) and it won't break the bank.
    We sell a lot of these at the bike shop I work at to women who sound a like like you.
    BTW: I'm not a kid trying to sell you a bike. I'm 63.
    Last edited by RonH; 09-02-08 at 07:26 AM.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2011 Felt Z4

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  12. #12
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Look for used Nishiki.
    I found one last year for $15.00 and road it 1,500 miles to get in shape for a new bike.

    Added 2 $10.00 tires, cleaned it up, neighborers thought it was new.

    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    If you don't want drop bars or a hybrid with bars up to your shoulders but you want a women's frame, try the women's model of the Jamis Coda.
    +1

    My advice exactly to a friend who sounds just like you. Couldn't pry her off the bike now.... she loves it.

    Good luck!

  14. #14
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Welcome. Some ideas:

    Maybe you could rent a bike for a day just to get your body to remember what to do. Then you'll be more comfortable and confident on test rides.

    At one point I thought I was getting too old for drop handlebars, but I was wrong.

    You can certainly save a lot of money by getting a bike from craigslist. You may have to be patient though. Read up on bicycle fit and measure yourself, and you'll know what to look for.

    I'd say look for a bike that is like your Nishiki of 20 years ago.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  15. #15
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    Just my opinion, for what it's worth....
    Try a few bike shops and lots of bikes. The odds are that you'll
    develop a strong level of trust and comfort with the personel in
    at least one of the shops. The folks in this shop will be very
    helpful with helping you to find the bike you want, whatever style
    it may turn out to be. Remember to keep an open mind when shopping.
    Try whatever they put you on. They can see the fit and read your body
    language, it's what they do for a living. Once they've finally helped
    put you on the bike that YOU WANT, you'll be sending us ride reports.

    Good hunting & Happy Trails
    Last edited by cranky old dude; 09-03-08 at 02:05 AM.

  16. #16
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    It does take a while to get your skills and confidence back after a break. I rode regularly until I was 40 then stopped for ten years. When I got back in the saddle it felt very odd for a week.

  17. #17
    Oldtimer borgagain's Avatar
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    I returned to cycling after a lengthy disability which included severe balance issues. The balance problems are completely gone on most days now. I do U turns in a single lane and ride rock steady at barely a crawl. Find the right bike for you and ride, ride, ride. It will come back!
    Resistance is futile. Mechanical enhancement is inevitable. You will be assimilated into your bicycle.
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  18. #18
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    my feeling is that you want a hybrid type of bike that has an adjustable stem... I found that I lowered the handlebars on mine to get more comfortable because the seat seemed to be straight over the pedals and caused some discomfort because I was too compressed...

  19. #19
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    Have you tried riding any of the crank forward bikes like:
    Electra Townie, Trek Pure, Giant Suede, KHS Smoothie or bikes with relaxed geometry like REI K2 T series? You feel like more room in the cockpit, plus you are closer to the ground so can put your feet down easily. They do seem to make you ride slower since they are relaxed though.

    Hope you find something that makes you smile.

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldBroad View Post
    So today I went to the bike store to check out some comfort bikes. They put me on a Specialist women's bike that was not even sort of adjusted for me. ...

    ...and even forced myself to try a different Specialist bike.
    It would help to know which model bikes you rode.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  21. #21
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    What a lot of great advice and encouragement. Wow, you guys are the best!

    I do have a bike just like my old Nishiki. My old Nishiki has been living in the basement for 20 years! Really all it needs is new tires and a tuneup and it should be good to go.

    BUT it still has that men's frame and I now have this stiff body (which, sadly, has also aged 20 years!) to contend with.

    I don't know which Specialist bikes I tried. Both were called "comfort bikes." One of them had smaller wheels and I think fewer gears than the other. I pretty much hated them both. But what I was also hating was my feeling of ineptitude. Much easier to blame the bike.

    I will look at some of the other bikes suggested. I also considered renting one so that I could have my panic attacks in private (and maybe with a friend and a stiff drink nearby).

    Thanks everyone!

    Old B.

  22. #22
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldBroad View Post
    What a lot of great advice and encouragement. Wow, you guys are the best!

    I do have a bike just like my old Nishiki. My old Nishiki has been living in the basement for 20 years! Really all it needs is new tires and a tuneup and it should be good to go.

    BUT it still has that men's frame and I now have this stiff body (which, sadly, has also aged 20 years!) to contend with.

    I don't know which Specialist bikes I tried. Both were called "comfort bikes." One of them had smaller wheels and I think fewer gears than the other. I pretty much hated them both. But what I was also hating was my feeling of ineptitude. Much easier to blame the bike.

    I will look at some of the other bikes suggested. I also considered renting one so that I could have my panic attacks in private (and maybe with a friend and a stiff drink nearby).

    Thanks everyone!

    Old B.
    What you are referring to as a "men's bike" is a traditional road bike? If so, this is what women ride, too, in many cases. If it fits the way you want it to fit, it won't matter if it has a horizontal top tube. You might even enjoy a touring bike. They're forgiving, they have low gears, and you can put on racks to carry stuff if you want to run errands with it.
    BTW, it's 'Specialized.'

  23. #23
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Probably a 2009 Globe Carmel. They come in 26" and 700c wheel sizes.

    I bet you aren't really looking for a comfort bike. Since your shop carries Specialized, ask them to show you something in a hybrid line, like a Vienna or Vita. The handlebars will be closer to seat level.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  24. #24
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    Gaaaah. I'm such a newbie! Yes, it has that top bar, which used to be no big deal, but now it feels like a big deal. Ah. Specialized. Ooops.


    ===
    "What you are referring to as a "men's bike" is a traditional road bike? If so, this is what women ride, too, in many cases. If it fits the way you want it to fit, it won't matter if it has a horizontal top tube. You might even enjoy a touring bike. They're forgiving, they have low gears, and you can put on racks to carry stuff if you want to run errands with it.

    BTW, it's 'Specialized.' "

  25. #25
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    It sounds like you need to get your "sea legs" back before making a major purchase. I do like my comfort bike, but if you want to eventually cover some distance and gain speed, it's not the best choice. After two months I'm already looking to upgrade with something more suitable to my goals.

    Sounds like a hybrid or flat bar road bike might work for you, but why not pick up a used bike and get your confidence back, then decide what you would like to accomplish? Find an LBS that treats you like a valued customer, too. Any shop that doesn't make any effort to fit you properly doesn't deserve the business.

    At 54, you have a lot of good cycling years ahead.

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