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  1. #1
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    58 year old female newbie

    I have been able to overcome my first of two fears, bicycle riding.(2nd fear is swimming) It required taking bike lessons with bikenewyork.org 2 weeks ago, but I did it. Last week I continued practicing with my new trek cruiser & I fell hurting my right shoulder, swollen & scraped knee. I also developed thigh bruising in 3 places on left thigh.
    I have healed up except thigh bruising & scraped knee. I got back on the bike today & only had one slight mishap crashing into the fence along my neighborhood bike path. I wear a helmet always but utilized knee pads & elbow pads which are tight & uncomfortable with the elastic. Joggers, walkers & bike riders share the same narrow path & I have difficulty manuvering around people. Even though I'm up & out by 6:30 a.m. there are still people on the path. My fear of falling still presides in my head & I wonder if anyone has any advice on how to prevent hematoma (thigh bruising)? Is there any type of protective gear to wear. I tend to bruise very easy. I'm visiting my doc this week to have her check out bruises.

  2. #2
    Senior Member miss kenton's Avatar
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    My advice is to not worry about protective thigh wear and don't worry about bruises. Worry about wearing longer skirts and shorts until you master steering skills. I am an easy bruiser, too. Look at it this way: it is a lot more interesting to tell people you've acquired a bruise as a result of a biking mishap than it is to tell them you've walked into the edge of your bureau, isn't it?
    Having said this, you should know, I fractured my arm last month by running into a pole! So you might want to take my advice with a grain of salt.

  3. #3
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    Welcome abengi. I don't have any specific advice for you other than some encouraging words. It is likely that your bike handling skills and balance will improve over time. I have found, as you have, that riding a sometimes crowded bike path can be tricky. If you find that the bike is too nerve wracking, you may want to consider a trike. These, as you may imagine, are completely stable being three wheeled, and whiz along at a good clip. People have crossed the entire country on these and I see them frequently on my local bike path.

  4. #4
    Senior Member seacycle's Avatar
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    I'm also 58 and bruise easily (also not a swimmer!).
    I suggest finding another place to practice your riding skills and stay off the crowded bike path until you're more confident. There's too much stop-and-go, dodging reckless kids, and maneuvering around walkers/joggers for a newbie. Find a quiet street somewhere with a good-sized shoulder and minimal traffic where you can ride without distractions. I'm a confident rider, but I avoid all bike paths in the summer months when they're the most crowded.
    Good luck!
    "what a long, strange trip it's been"

  5. #5
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Bike paths often are poor places to ride. They're used by mommies pushing strollers three abreast, joggers, walkers with dogs on leashes, roller-bladers, and familes with small children.
    None of who are paying attention to their surroundings. Most of them have an ipod in one ear and a cell phone on the other.

    Early morning empty streets might be safer.

  6. #6
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    Welcome abengi!

    Congratulations on completing the bikenewyork course (I read about it on the New York Times Web site) and taking up the sport of bicycling.

    I agree with Miss Kenton and recommend that you do not fixate on wearing protective gear other than a good helmet and perhaps gloves. Instead, focus on improving your riding skills so you don't crash in the first place. I know it is hard for a beginner, but try to relax and have fun. Relaxing will prevent your muscles from tightening up and will allow you to control the bike more easily.

    Practice specific skills. One day, try starting from stop, pedaling 50 feet, and then coming to a smooth stop. Repeat a number of times until you feel it becoming natural. On other days, try other drills. Do you have access to a parking lot, park, or other "wider" location where you can practice steering and other maneuvering skills? Cycling is like other physical endeavors: the more you practice, the better you will get. As your skills increase, your fear will decrease and you'll start to really enjoy cycling. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Welcome. We are so pleased that you are learning to ride a bike, and that you are frequenting our forum

    A couple of suggestions.

    1. Is there a large empty (at 6:30 am) parking lot - like a shopping center or a school parking lot. If there is, practice there.

    2. If you ride on an empty street, and if there are cars parked along the street, be careful of folks opening their car doors right into your path - ride a bit farther out - and watch for cars with their motors running ready to pull out in front of you. Now this doesn't happen often,just something to keep in mind.

    Bicycle paths vary greatly, around here they are great and often empty, other places busy and crowded. I wouldn't practice learning to ride on a busy one.

    Good luck and keep us informed. My wife learnied to ride in her 60's and is doing great, still riding at almost 74.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Welcome! The fear of falling is normal to new riders and even to established and professional riders. And the older you get, the harder it is for that fear to go away. But practice makes perfect and the more you practice the more comfortable you will become when riding, which in turn will help the fear go away.

    My wife bought an inexpensive, used, upright bike and tried to ride it but kept fearing that she would fall. She has bilateral hip replacements and after a few falls she stopped riding and gave the bike away. I really wanted her to start riding again so we could ride together and we looked into recumbent tricycles. Her first one was a Sun EZ-3 and she rode it almost every day and on weekends with me at the park that I ride at. She recently bought herself a recumbent racing style trike and now she can really move when she wants to. My wife is 64 and having a ball with her new bike. I only mentioned this because if for whatever reason you can't get rid of the fear of falling, a recumbent tricycle is an option that will keep you riding without falling over.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Hey - You are doing great - Falling is required - The thing is you fall less as you go along - Find a spot where you can ride a far distance before you fall and go for it knowing that you are going to fall or stumble - Go easy and try to pick the place where you put your foot down or fall - Just knowing you are going to do it and accepting it will get you farther - Don't break anything - At 58 you should know your bone density - Also - There is something sexy about a girl on a bike no matter what her age...

    Welcome to the forum...

  10. #10
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Hello abengi, yes the paths are narrow and crowded in some places.
    Are you far from parks? Usually the path/streets there are wider and
    cars are off limits, most of the time. It looks like you just need some
    more practice and you should be ok. I've been commuting in New York
    City for 5 years now and I'm pretty comfortable on the streets and
    paths. Contact me if you want a buddy to ride with, maybe give you
    some pointers. I work nights though, so no 6:30am riding for me.
    Afternoons during the week and weekends is fine. Riding thru Central
    Park, Manhattan:


  11. #11
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Welcome. You've got your first cycling badge of honor with those scars, so it's all good.
    By the time the scars heal, you should be gaining confidence, and then it will be time to go clipless and get some more scars.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


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  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Welcome abengi! It takes a few hours in the saddle before you'll start getting less wobbly, and week or two might be required to feel completely comfortable. Empty parking lots are a Good Idea(tm). So are quiet neighborhood streets in the early morning. Crowded paths are not. And there's no shame in putting the seat down lower than normal while you're learning, if it makes reaching the ground easier from the saddle.

  13. #13
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what to tell you about how to improve your skill level on the bike, other than try to find a secluded area and ride, ride, ride, and oh yeah, ride. Keep practicing and you will get better. Take it slow and be careful!
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  14. #14
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    Welcome! The fear of falling is normal to new riders and even to established and professional riders. And the older you get, the harder it is for that fear to go away. But practice makes perfect and the more you practice the more comfortable you will become when riding, which in turn will help the fear go away.

    My wife bought an inexpensive, used, upright bike and tried to ride it but kept fearing that she would fall. She has bilateral hip replacements and after a few falls she stopped riding and gave the bike away.
    That's a concern.

    My wife has had two hip replacements -- both on the right -- but despite some paranoia about falling has continued to ride.

    She has a custom TS Isaac touring frame that dates from before both hip replacements that she rides occasionally, but most of her riding lately has been on a Raleigh "Sports" woman's bike I bought for her a couple years ago.

  15. #15
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    Welcome, young lady! ;~)

    I was a 55 year old newbie, once. You are only a newbie once!

    The advice of avoiding the rec trails is very good. I ride there in the summer months only out of necessity.

    I bruise easily, too, and my skin is like tissue paper. My OB/GYN said to me "welcome to menopause". Gee, thanks! It's a fact of life, but I heal. Hey, you're going to fall from time to time, don't let it scare you off the bike. Most falls are silly "fall overs", but at our age, the visible damage can look scary - but it's not, it'll heal. I've learned to wear long pants and long sleeves to cover the boo-boos I occasionally aquire, it's all about dressing appropriately. Unfortunately, for protective clothing while in the saddle, short of wearing a football uniform, there isn't anything you can don that will prevent the scrapes and bruises. Sorry!

    Right now you're a rider - here's hoping you'll become a cyclist! Welcome aboard!
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  16. #16
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    I am in awe of you and your commitment to learn to ride a bicycle at our age. Good on ya! Stick with it. Go slow. And, be ready to put your foot down on the ground when you feel you are losing your balance. Keep your knees slightly bent when you do. Use your leg as a "shock absorber". You'll get there pretty soon.

    Can we assume you are wearing gloves? The hands are usually the first thing to be thrown out when falling. Protect your hands. This might sound silly, how about wearing a dress or koolats (however that's spelled), and underneath it is a football jersey/pants. Those are pretty padded around the thighs and hips, aren't they. If you have a second-hand sporting goods store in your area, they just might have some. Or, you can get some on-line from somewhere. They would be hidden by your dress. Just make sure your dress isn't "flowing" and thereby get caught up in your wheels/chain/etc.
    Deut 6:5

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  17. #17
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard, Abengi. This is the place to be on the web!

    I must agree with the other members, in that the bike paths, (multi-use paths, or MUPS)
    are not a good place if you are just learning and building up your confidence and handling ability. As others have noted, they can be frequently crowded with moms and their little ones, often practicing very poor riding habits. This usually goes with the oblivious pedestrian, walking along while totally absorbed by their music players, or their cell phone conversations. I'll toss in pre-teen males, who insist on "swooping" back and forth across the entire bike lane while making odd sounds. I do use the minute man bike way in Lexington, MA, as part of my normal commute. But in the early morning hours, it is all but deserted.

    Very low-traffic side streets, or even parking lots (at the right hours) are good. As your confidence and ability increase, you'll find yourself wanting to go further. This is when you can start thinking about shorts, jerseys, etc. For right now, gloves and a helmet are fine.
    I thought I was suffering from depression once. Turned out, I was simply surrounded by idiots.

  18. #18
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    I don't know how many thousands of miles my wife and I have riding but we are very worried whenever on a bike path and don't you know just the other day she crashed due to an idiot on the wrong side of the path on a tight corner that she couldn't avoid. The more experienced you are the more you realize a MUP is about the most dangerous place you can ride a bike.

  19. #19
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    That's a concern.

    My wife has had two hip replacements -- both on the right -- but despite some paranoia about falling has continued to ride.
    JohnD,

    Her major concern was that one of the prosthesis is causing a bulge in the femur where the prosthesis shaft ends. She had very little muscle mass in her legs due to all the surgeries over the years. Her surgeon told her that if she fell and fractured that area that she would have a major surgery ahead of her with a long recovery. After hearing that, she refused to ride the upright. However, I just can't seem to get her off her recumbent trike. Even her orthopedic surgeon is happy that she is riding because it is building muscle around the bulge and decreasing the chances that it would fracture.
    HCFR Cycling Team
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  20. #20
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    VIDEO:

    What are all those stop signs and stop lights for?

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  21. #21
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'd work on riding skills(and work on them!) where people aren't. Don't just ride, work on some skills. It will give you something to do.

    When braking, get your weight back and extend your arms.

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  22. #22
    Senior Member willb1046's Avatar
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    Welcome abengi: I too take my hat off to you, congratulations on climbing on a bike! I also agree that this is the best place to be on the web for cycling advice. There is tons of experience here, and many many good people. We have a MUP (Schuylkill River Trail) in my area, it's nice and scenic but also very crowded, not a good place for someone who is learning to ride. The best advice can be found above: an empty parking lot, uncrowded wide streets.
    Take your time and practice practice and practice. Before long you will forget your fears of falling and will just be having fun, feeling like a kid.
    Riding a bicycle is one of the most fun things to do, and it really gives you a sense of freedom.

    Welcome, good luck and keep us posted on your advancements and achievements.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willb1046 View Post
    Welcome abengi: I too take my hat off to you, congratulations on climbing on a bike! I also agree that this is the best place to be on the web for cycling advice. There is tons of experience here, and many many good people. We have a MUP (Schuylkill River Trail) in my area, it's nice and scenic but also very crowded, not a good place for someone who is learning to ride. The best advice can be found above: an empty parking lot, uncrowded wide streets.
    Take your time and practice practice and practice. Before long you will forget your fears of falling and will just be having fun, feeling like a kid.
    Riding a bicycle is one of the most fun things to do, and it really gives you a sense of freedom.

    Welcome, good luck and keep us posted on your advancements and achievements.
    Actually, it's not crowed at all if you ride during the right time of day. I did 38 miles this morning and only saw four other riders. Between 2:30 and 6:00 pm there are way too many riders for my taste. Same thing all day Saturday and Sunday.
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  24. #24
    Trying to stay upright. Wreader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abengi View Post
    I have been able to overcome my first of two fears, bicycle riding.Is there any type of protective gear to wear. I tend to bruise very easy. I'm visiting my doc this week to have her check out bruises.
    Way to go, learning to ride a bike! Count your bumps and bruises as marks of your courage to get up on a bike. I fell last summer and skinned my knee. I had not had a skinned knee since I was a kid, but I considered it a mark of pride to wear it. It still hurt. With more experience, you will get more comfortable on a bike, and have fewer wrecks. You will start to feel the bike, rather than having to think about what you are doing with it. The more hours on the bike, the more comfortable you will be. I am no expert, but I would not wear the pads, etc. I would wear a helmet, and maybe some bike gloves so you don't skin your hands. Wear long sleeves and long pants to avoid road-rash (scrapes and skinned up areas caused by hitting the pavement), if the weather can permit it, but not protective equipment. If you are learning to ride and are wearing pads, once you get some miles under your belt, and stop wearing the padding, you will have to learn all over again. If you are taking aspirin (including aspirin added to other meds like some cold medicines, Exedrine, etc.), Motrin (iboprofen) or Aleve (naprosen or naproxen), you are more likely to bruise than if you take Tylenol. Ask your doctor if any of your medications (including over-the-counter ones) might be making you more prone to bruising, and if so, what you should be taking. Very glad to see you here. I just joined the forum a week or so ago. I am finding it very helpful to get tips and advice, and to stay motivated.
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  25. #25
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Abengi -

    Are you there?

    Lots of good advice, but you have disappeared??

    Please come back.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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