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Old 01-10-11, 10:40 AM   #1
Billy Bones
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Ungainly Mounts/Dismounts, Falls, Fit, Efficiency, and Age

OK, hereís the deal.

At 60 years. . .and having been in the saddle since age 8. . .Iím loosing all those smooth mount/dismount moves. Itís to the point that Iím doing the "Artie Johnson" about twice per month.

The problem is that with a bike properly adjusted for efficient spinning, duration-in-saddle, and knee health; the saddle [all of a sudden like!] seems too high to set a stable foot down.

Yeah, Iíve got the usual age-related whatís-its [arthritis, blood pressure, couple of pounds], but remain strong, cheerful, and determined. . .except that I SUDDENLY need a bike with two stem positions. . .changeable on-the-fly!

Thing is, I adore my small stable of thoroughbreds and their athletic performance under me. Iíd hate to give them up for a comfort geometry.

Iím asking you lads and lassies if youíve encountered the issue and how you handled it.

Like my gran'mammy said, "Dis' here gittin' old ain't no tea wid' da' Queen."

Thanks, folks.
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Old 01-10-11, 11:17 AM   #2
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I'm not sure exactly what you are describing. Are you saying that on a bike that used to fit, you now have problems reaching the ground when you clip out? Or, is this a balance issue? And what's going on with the stem; is this a mid-ride desire to be able to change positions, or something else?
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Old 01-10-11, 11:57 AM   #3
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Butt-on-saddle and foot-on-ground are usually mutually exclusive (at least on a traditional diamond-framed bike). Is the problem you can't get your duff off the saddle in time to get a foot down?
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Old 01-10-11, 12:09 PM   #4
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Easy cure--Don't stop the bike for dismounts.

I am one of those who's feet don't touch the ground when on the saddle. In fact they don't even come near. So mounting and the only time I have a problem is when pointing uphill. So I make a point of never stopping on hills. And dismounts are right foot and pedal low- forward on the saddle and touch left foot down. Helps as I only ride Compact frames with plenty of slope on the top tube.

Except for the Tandem--And landings are a bit hit and miss on that.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:17 PM   #5
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OK, here’s the deal.

At 60 years. . .and having been in the saddle since age 8. . .I’m loosing all those smooth mount/dismount moves. It’s to the point that I’m doing the "Artie Johnson" about twice per month.

The problem is that with a bike properly adjusted for efficient spinning, duration-in-saddle, and knee health; the saddle [all of a sudden like!] seems too high to set a stable foot down.

Yeah, I’ve got the usual age-related what’s-its [arthritis, blood pressure, couple of pounds], but remain strong, cheerful, and determined. . .except that I SUDDENLY need a bike with two stem positions. . .changeable on-the-fly!

Thing is, I adore my small stable of thoroughbreds and their athletic performance under me. I’d hate to give them up for a comfort geometry.

I’m asking you lads and lassies if you’ve encountered the issue and how you handled it.

Like my gran'mammy said, "Dis' here gittin' old ain't no tea wid' da' Queen."

Thanks, folks.
I was going to suggest a Step Through Frame, or Mixte... But, I must admit I'm a bit confused as to your particular problem you are describing. Most bike types with the exception of Crank Forward frames, some cruisers, or Recumbent designs; require the seat/saddle to be set too high for touching a foot down while still on the saddle/seat. Even on my Mixte, I still have to slide forward off the seat upon stopping to put my foot down, and straddle the bike.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:22 PM   #6
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I normally unclip my right foot when stopping, which means if there's a curb, I can just put a foot on it while I stay on the saddle.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:59 PM   #7
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...I am one of those who's feet don't touch the ground when on the saddle....
We all are one of those, assuming normal bike setup. Right foot on the curb is one of my favorites for stopping at intersections, or if no curb, out of the saddle and one foot on the ground.

One thing I'll do is clip one foot in while standing beside the bike, put my weight on that foot and start rolling, then stand on that pedal and swing my other leg over the bike as I'm rolling. I sometimes stop using that method in reverse standing on one pedal on one side of the bike as I roll to stop. That's viewed as odd by some but that's the way we all did it when I was a kid...without clipping of course.
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Old 01-10-11, 01:48 PM   #8
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Just realised--Mountain biking and some use a Seat post that is adjustable via a Lever. They use it for normal riding where a "High" Seatpost is required and when they go downhill- a flick of the lever and the saddle goes down a couple of inches.
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Old 01-10-11, 03:47 PM   #9
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I normally unclip my right foot when stopping, which means if there's a curb, I can just put a foot on it while I stay on the saddle.
Ditto. Unclip foot, slide off the front of the saddle, put unclipped foot down as speed reaches zero. Maybe the problem is improper technique.
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Old 01-10-11, 04:47 PM   #10
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...Most bike types with the exception of Crank Forward frames, some cruisers, or Recumbent designs; require the seat/saddle to be set too high for touching a foot down while still on the saddle/seat.
I can and frequently do touch the tip of a toe on the ground to support the bike while still seated on the saddle. It is not the most stable position, but very sufficient for stopping at traffic lights etc. in most situations. And yes, my saddle is at the proper height.
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Old 01-10-11, 05:52 PM   #11
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I can and frequently do touch the tip of a toe on the ground to support the bike while still seated on the saddle. It is not the most stable position, but very sufficient for stopping at traffic lights etc. in most situations. And yes, my saddle is at the proper height.
I'm happy for you... People have different body geometries as well as bicycle geometries. Perhaps your foot is a little long for your inseam length, or something. I used to have a 1975 Schwinn Le Tour that I could just barely touch my tip toes on level pavement, and still be on the saddle, but it was neither stable, or comfortable to do so.

Just personal opinion, but I think it's more the norm not to be able to touch down, then to be able. Newer bikes seem to have higher bottom brackets then some of the old ones used to. If you have a lower BB, and don't have pedal strike issues, it would make it easier to put your feet down while still on the saddle.
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Old 01-10-11, 05:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Billy Bones View Post
At 60 years. . .and having been in the saddle since age 8. . .I’m loosing all those smooth mount/dismount moves. It’s to the point that I’m doing the "Artie Johnson" about twice per month.

The problem is that with a bike properly adjusted for efficient spinning, duration-in-saddle, and knee health; the saddle [all of a sudden like!] seems too high to set a stable foot down.

Yeah, I’ve got the usual age-related what’s-its [arthritis, blood pressure, couple of pounds], but remain strong, cheerful, and determined. . .except that I SUDDENLY need a bike with two stem positions. . .changeable on-the-fly!

Thing is, I adore my small stable of thoroughbreds and their athletic performance under me. I’d hate to give them up for a comfort geometry.

I’m asking you lads and lassies if you’ve encountered the issue and how you handled it.

Like my gran'mammy said, "Dis' here gittin' old ain't no tea wid' da' Queen."

Thanks, folks.
I faced the exact same problem on my new Cruiser. After a very un-graceful face plant I decided to take a different seat post route. Took awhile to figure out but the end result is so sweet!!

I installed a "Lay back" seat post to keep my pedal stride right but lowered me closer to the ground for flat foot on the ground safety. You can make one from bar stock aluminum or buy one (NOT recommended they are all to weak!)

http://dyno.rdmarshall.com/?p=24

Electra bike all use this flat foot design on their bikes but a lay back seat post means any bike can have flat foot!!
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Old 01-10-11, 06:07 PM   #13
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Good stuff, folks! I guess the issue is my personal "evolving" geometry, where additional stiffness in the joints is making previous glamorous maneuvers more difficult. Well, at least I still have my purdy’ face!
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Old 01-10-11, 06:15 PM   #14
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OK, here’s the deal.

At 60 years. . .and having been in the saddle since age 8. . .I’m loosing all those smooth mount/dismount moves. It’s to the point that I’m doing the "Artie Johnson" about twice per month.

The problem is that with a bike properly adjusted for efficient spinning, duration-in-saddle, and knee health; the saddle [all of a sudden like!] seems too high to set a stable foot down.
......
Thing is, I adore my small stable of thoroughbreds and their athletic performance under me. I’d hate to give them up for a comfort geometry.

I’m asking you lads and lassies if you’ve encountered the issue and how you handled it.
I'm trying to understand what the problem is. Are you one of those who pushes off then swings a leg over the saddle while the bike is in motion, then reverses the process to dismount?
If that's the case, stop doing it. The only folks I know who do that ride alone or with slower groups. All the fast riders simply put one leg over the bike while it's static and straddle until it's time to move out.
If you are having trouble swinging a leg over the saddle while the bike is static, try leaning the bike over toward you. I have short legs for my height, and that's what I do. BTW, changing your geometry to relaxed will NOT help the situation as the saddle height stays the same. I ride both geometries and actually have more of a problem with relaxed geometry than I do with standard frame geometry. I have no idea why.
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Old 01-10-11, 07:25 PM   #15
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I'm trying to understand what the problem is. ...
If you are having trouble swinging a leg over the saddle while the bike is static, try leaning the bike over toward you...
This didn't sound like the OP's issue, but, if it's part of the list of issues, the other thing you could do to circumvent tall saddles/seatposts is to swing your leg over the handlebar, instead. Since you can see where your leg is going and where the hbar & stem are (hopefully) you should be able to clear them easily.
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Old 01-10-11, 08:02 PM   #16
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Just step forward. No keeping butt on saddle, no leaning to the side...just stand up. Like the video on Sheldon's website: http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html Only slightly different if wearing clipless shoes.
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Old 01-11-11, 02:46 AM   #17
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I will be 63 in June and have been a type-1 diabetic for 47 years. I can still ride my diamond frame, but getting my leg with the big SS ankle brace over the seat takes a bit of doing. No falls yet.

This June-August I will use my trike to go across Australia and see how I can do as compated to my touring bike. Have you tried/considered a trike? I will get the supports/hand grips for the GTO to help pull myself out of the (lounge chair/seat) to help with extraction from the seat
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Old 01-11-11, 03:43 AM   #18
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Crank length? What are you using?

Shorter cranks require the seat to be higher; longer cranks mean lower seat. The millimetres involved can make all the difference. If you aren't already at 185mm, you could look at increased length on your favourite bikes if the issue becomes very annoying.

My personal start-off method is to stay seated. It gives me total control. I don't have to concentrate on getting seated while picking a line while traffic is passing, while avoiding other cyclists around me while my weight is over the front wheel and making it squirrely. And it really comes in handy when starting on steep hills.

Same thing when stopping. I don't have to balance on my grounded foot to get the other pedal up and ready to go. Fewer things to worry about. Plus, my steering it always positive, and I can take a few extra turns on the still-engaged pedal if needed.
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Old 01-11-11, 07:27 AM   #19
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i was going to suggest a step through frame, or mixte... But, i must admit i'm a bit confused as to your particular problem you are describing. Most bike types with the exception of crank forward frames, some cruisers, or recumbent designs; require the seat/saddle to be set too high for touching a foot down while still on the saddle/seat. Even on my mixte, i still have to slide forward off the seat upon stopping to put my foot down, and straddle the bike.
this is the best way to make sure you don't fall, and/or embarass yourself.
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Old 01-11-11, 10:22 AM   #20
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I hope this doesn't seem condescending, but just in case it's useful:

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Old 01-11-11, 11:47 AM   #21
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To mount my bike, I tilt the frame towards me then swing my right leg over the saddle and on to the ground while raising the frame back upright. I end up straddling the frame while standing on both feet forward of the saddle. I then clip my left foot in, raise the pedal up to forward of top dead center, and push off while starting to pedal - lifting my weight on to the saddle at the same time.

To dismount I decide which foot I'm going to put down (depends on camber of the road, terrain, etc.), unclip it from the pedal, support my weight off of the saddle on the other foot, and as I brake to a stop, put my foot down. I end up standing on one pedal with the other foot on the ground, straddling the top tube forward of the saddle.

(I remember doing the "running mounts" as a kid, but I wouldn't even try it now!)
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Old 01-11-11, 12:10 PM   #22
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If i understand the issue, then cross-train if you are not already seems appropriate. Put particular emphasis on rebuilding fast twitch fibers with weights. Add stretching as well. While partly age related, it's as much related to lack of use of muscle-mass, especially at only 60.

Fast twitch fibers can virtually disappear with age (in some cases) if not exercised. They are critical to one's balance and reflexes. When they go we become klutzes. That's why the old have a reputation for falling.

Some balance/reflex training as well is recommended by some, however mountain biking on technical single-track has the same effect.

Flexibility is a second issue to maintaining the "moves".

The tendons lose moisture with age and tend to shrink. Though I have never stretched before as I could never find a scientific basis for it and there are negatives, I had to succumb to it a few months ago (age 71). The stretching has allowed me to quit chasing my foot around the bedroom to put a sock on it.

Cycling is insufficient for maintaining functionality into old age and for general good health as well. Some strength training is required.

Note that the rate of muscle mass and VO2max declines are pretty much straight-line with age after about 40. Some who study the physiology of ageing now say that the rate doubles after about 70. However, the rates can be cut by more than half with a balanced and strenuous exercise program at any age.

About a hundred years ago, we didn't have to worry about such things as most of the population was into heavy manual labor. Now both the work place and the home have labor saving devices and most jobs are manual labor free.

That was brought home to me about 5 years ago when I was buying some lumber at a local hardware store. I was told to drive my truck into their warehouse and the guy there would load it. The guy was some 5 years older than me it turns out. That put him in his 70's at the time.

He had to move some 3/4" plywood sheets off a pile to get to my stuff. I helped him. He was much stronger (and thinner) than me. He moved like a cat. He'd been doing that kind of work his whole life. He doesn't work out and ride like I do and he doesn't need too.


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Old 01-11-11, 12:18 PM   #23
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I hope this doesn't seem condescending, but just in case it's useful:

That is the way I do it.

OP, can you mount and dismount as in the video?
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Old 01-11-11, 01:21 PM   #24
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Good stuff, folks! I guess the issue is my personal "evolving" geometry, where additional stiffness in the joints is making previous glamorous maneuvers more difficult. Well, at least I still have my purdy’ face!
One of my best friends has a body shape which is, shall we say, indicative of a life well lived and a fondness for good food. He's a little bit oval, and not very flexible. He's also a regular cycle tourist on the summer rides we do together, and a 5-6 hour century-ist. He weighs twice me, and consequently has about twice the leg strength - I beat him on hills, otherwise we are matched!

He mounts and dismounts a bike flat on the floor - lays it down and steps through, on and off. He's up for anything bike related.

Probably irrelevant. Ride on!
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Old 01-11-11, 02:23 PM   #25
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One of my best friends has a body shape which is, shall we say, indicative of a life well lived and a fondness for good food. He's a little bit oval, and not very flexible. He's also a regular cycle tourist on the summer rides we do together, and a 5-6 hour century-ist. He weighs twice me, and consequently has about twice the leg strength - I beat him on hills, otherwise we are matched!

He mounts and dismounts a bike flat on the floor - lays it down and steps through, on and off. He's up for anything bike related.

Probably irrelevant. Ride on!
When my left hip started going bad I would literally have to lay the bike on it's side and step over the top tube, bend down raise the bike about half way, and step over the bottom bracket. Getting off the bike was a little tricky, but generally the same as getting on it, only in reverse... (this was before my hip fused and had to be replaced, and I rode diamond frame bikes at that time) Friends would ask me "Why do you put yourself through that, it looks so painful". My answer was simply... "Because I love to ride my bike".
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