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  1. #1
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    Newbie expectations

    I'm a new road cyclist, or rather, one who is looking forward to getting into this sport/activity. Like a lot of folks, I road bikes as a kid. I've always been active, with basketball till about 35, lifting weights till about 45, coaching a lot of kid ball for the past 2 decades, and the last 10 years of a little running (I always hated running unless it was after a basketball). Now at 51 years old, my body tells me that it's time for a change, so I've decided to take up road cycling. I've read a lot in the last several months, and I'm convinced of the benefits of a trip to my LBS to select some quality equipment (carbon frame, etc..). My plan is to ride 2-3 times a week when the weather is good in Atlanta, and sprinkle in some running and light weights. I'll end up working out 3-4 times a week in total.

    So with that, what are reasonable expectations? Can I expect to be able to do a 50 mile ride within 12 months? How about a 100 mile ride? Any other insights or experiences to share would be great.

  2. #2
    Senior Member k7baixo's Avatar
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    Without a doubt. It sounds like youre used to exercise already so the rest will hopefully come naturally.

    I started back just over a year ago. I rode Ragbrai last summer, attempted & failed to complete a 200k brevet in Sept (no excuse but it was too much climbing), did a couple of centuries since and completed a 300k brevet this past Saturday. If I can do that, anyone can.

    For the record, I'm a few years older than you.
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  3. #3
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    50 miles within 12 months of starting? No problem, unless you are in much worse shape than you state.
    As far as equipment goes, one strategy would be to buy a modestly priced bike, even a used bike, and ride it enough to figure out exactly what bike you really want and need. Then, when you have your ideal bike, you will already have a backup bike. Gotta have a backup bike.
    Once you are cycling on a regular basis, why run if you don't enjoy it?
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    You will likely do much better than what you stated. My wife at 52 averaged 50 miles a day for 74 consecutive days on a cross country trip--on a fully loaded bike!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    last July 2nd, I rode 30 miles, which was nearly twice what I'd previously ridden in a day.
    July 31, I road 50 on my Hybrid.

    I'm now 64, with emphysema, a bad knee and back.
    I didn't do a 50 mile trip however. I did multiple short trips that added up to 50 miles. I was also BEAT at the end of the day, but did have to fight some pretty bad head winds at times.

    Ride at least a "few" miles everyday. It helps to keep you from "reverting".

  6. #6
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I agree, it shouldn't be a problem. Especially since you've been an active type. Just start off with shorter rides to get an idea of what you can actually do, and push the distance a bit more as you feel comfortable with it.

    I've been off the bike for an extended period a few times. I always started myself off with 2 or 3 miles for my first ride and within a month I am doing 15-20. I did 60 miles this past Saturday for the first time since I was in my 20's.

    I agree with JanMM that buying a good used road bike for a couple hundred is a good way of finding out what you do and don't like. Then when you do buy that expensive dreamcycle, you'll also have a backup bike.
    Last edited by Yo Spiff; 02-08-12 at 06:41 PM.
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  7. #7
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    It sounds like you're in very good general shape/health from all those other sports, so road cycling should come relatively easy to you.

    Sure, there are some specific muscle groups that will benefit from cycling that may not have been used much in your other sports, but overall and big picture . . . no problem.

    Regarding your goals, it sounds to me like you're underestimating yourself. For you, I would think 50 miles within the first couple of months, a century relatively easily after 6 months and a double century by the end of the first year.

    So yes, just go for it, you're mostly ready now!

    Rick / OCRR

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    Thanks for the insights. My neighbor got into road cycling for similar reasons a couple of years ago, and he tells me he never runs any more. I suspect that I'll be doing the same after awhile. I've thought about going the used bike route at first as well - maybe pick up a Trek 1.2 or Cannondale or something of similar quality for a few hundred to get me started. I'm a little hesitant to do so from reading all the posts on the importance of getting the proper fit, adjustments, and guidance at a LBS. Then again, I know the frame size I'll need, and there's plenty of guidance on this forum and others on basic adjustments, etc... Thanks again for the encouragement.

  9. #9
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    The only thing I think might be a problem is the time factor. Generally it takes longer to ride 50 miles than the other things you've done for exercise. But, you have coached baseball. So, this may not be an issue. If you've got three hours you're willing to invest on the 50 mile rides, you should be OK.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  10. #10
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I started used ($15 road bike) at 65 years old.

    Rode it 1500 miles learning shifting, getting my legs in bicycle shape.

    You have to get through the sore butt, and hot spots on the bottom of your feet.

    Knew what I needed on a new bike and got a perfect fit on it.

    Rode 11,200 miles the first year and 16,000 miles the 2nd yr.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 02-08-12 at 11:55 PM.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  11. #11
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    My brain likes the idea of running but my knees quickly veto that. For me long rides isn't really a question of conditioning. It's a question of comfort and motivation. I started riding in the fall of 2010. I rode a metric century (100 km) in June. I was in average shape by then and really didn't have any problems doing the ride. Did I enjoy it? Not really. I much prefer a 20-30 mile ride where I can either push it or take in the countryside as the mood hits me.Most of the rides I go on I only have a general direction in mind (first half into the wind). My point is spend the first season learning to love to ride. Distances and especially speed will come later.

  12. #12
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum Smalltown! Keep us posted on your rides! Good luck!
    Official member of the Brotherhood of Clyde...

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  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    With the residue fitness from your previous activities -Your physical fitness will help greatly. However that is not BIKE fitness. You will find muscles that you never realised you had and there is a little point of Butt pain. Don't worry- they will soon pass and if the butt pain doesn't go away withing 500 miles- then you will have a little investment to make .

    On the subject of the first bike- Get something reasonable and cheap as the first bike without buying crap. All the first bike is for is to tell you what the second bike will be. The body will adapt- the fitness will improve and at present you don't know the style of bike- or the sizing you will adapt to. You also don't tell us what the type of terrain you will will be riding on either. Will you have hills or flat riding and on the hills- How Hilly? All of these facts could mean that the first bike is not the ideal one after just a few months- so buy that first bike carefully.

    And a couple of my neighbours took up cycling on bikes borrowed from me last year. Within 3 months they had done a Metric Century (62 miles) on hilly routes and they survived.
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  14. #14
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    I'm going to take a contrarian view. Not about the time it will take you to build up to a 50 mile ride - that'll be easy. I think you should buy a good bike now, if you can afford it. (Of course, maybe you've got the bike you want picked out.)

    There are essentially two types of road bikes. There are road bikes that offer a more aggressive fit and road bikes that offer slightly more upright positions, slightly longer wheel bases, etc., touted as more comfortable for century rides and rides over rougher pavement.

    Given your level of fitness, you're going to enjoy either style of bike. That said, ride a few bikes and see what appeals to you, figure out what components you can afford based on your budget, and buy a bike.
    This post is a natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and are in no way to be considered flaws or defects.

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  15. #15
    Beast Rider BeastRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smalltown79 View Post
    I'm a new road cyclist, or rather, one who is looking forward to getting into this sport/activity. Like a lot of folks, I road bikes as a kid. I've always been active, with basketball till about 35, lifting weights till about 45, coaching a lot of kid ball for the past 2 decades, and the last 10 years of a little running (I always hated running unless it was after a basketball). Now at 51 years old, my body tells me that it's time for a change, so I've decided to take up road cycling. I've read a lot in the last several months, and I'm convinced of the benefits of a trip to my LBS to select some quality equipment (carbon frame, etc..). My plan is to ride 2-3 times a week when the weather is good in Atlanta, and sprinkle in some running and light weights. I'll end up working out 3-4 times a week in total.

    So with that, what are reasonable expectations? Can I expect to be able to do a 50 mile ride within 12 months? How about a 100 mile ride? Any other insights or experiences to share would be great.

    Start off with less expensive setup for a cycle. Your LBS should have a great selection. Sure, that $$3000 road bike looks GREAT, but are you going to be THAT serious about riding? True enough it looks great, rides fantastic, and you would be the envy of the neighborhood. But if you're not going to use it then it ends up being garage wall decoration.

    Make sure that riding seriously is something that you are going to enjoy before you step into the high dollar rides.

    I own a Cargo Bike ((Trek Transport)) and even with this I would not have made the purchase right out of the chute. I have been riding for many, MANY years and use a bicycle on a daily basis. This type of bike is good for me because I use it for trips to the grocery store, hardware store and I even use it as a commuter bike. But I would never have gone to the expense of this ride if I wasn't serious about it.

    I'm sure that you will enjoy whatever you get. Just get out there and RIDE!!!!!

  16. #16
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    You can do it if you want to and it sounds like you want to. Check out the Southern Bicycle League for lots of good info about rides and riding around Atlanta. Find a good bike shop and buy something you like that fits. It won't be your last bicycle.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  17. #17
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    I'm in just about the same situation maybe a half a season ahead. I was always active with running and a steady diet of aerobic sports. Then kids and work came along and I lost a lot of fitness and gained 40 lbs. I started running a couple of years ago and have gotten up to a 3-5 miles a day 3x a week with some cycling thrown in. I'd say you should be pealing off 50-100 miles without too much trouble. Work your way up to it over time. Your body will tell you how much or how little to do. I've recent purchaced a decent road bike in the $1,000.00 range (Trek 2.1) and am quite happy with it. Spending more would have gotten progressivly less bang for the buck.

  18. #18
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    Smalltown79, While you may be lucky and purchase the 'right' bike initially, it usually doesn't happen that way. The most important feature on a bicycle is it's fitment. As stated above, pick an inexpensive to moderately priced bike to start with.

    Brad

  19. #19
    Beast Rider BeastRider's Avatar
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    COMPLETELY agree!!!!! This won't be the last bike you purchase. For most people their first bike allows them to enter the cycling world. Then they realize that the bike they thought was perfect no longer suits their needs. It could be caused by lack of proper fitting, or, possibly, you change your riding style from one thing to another.

    Definitely shop around, ride a LOT of different bikes, and find the one that suits YOU. NOT the salesman.......

  20. #20
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Welcome to BF and the 50+ sub-forum, good to have you here. Your mindset and determination will see you through the starting period. As said get a bike that fits you properly, new or used and develop a relationship with a good LBS. This will pay off for you in the future as well as now. I'd recommend riding several types and makes of bicycles that friends can lend you for an afternoon or morning. You can get a good idea of which make and style of bicycle suits your needs. No need to get the latest and greatest to start with, unless your heart is set on this. A used road bicycle or entry level new bicycle can help you get into the habit of riding and develop your sense of what your bicycle should be for you. The N+1 factor will keep you looking for a new bicycle and that will come with time and experience.

    Again, welcome to 50+ and BF, please stick around.

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  21. #21
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
    There are essentially two types of road bikes. There are road bikes that offer a more aggressive fit and road bikes that offer slightly more upright positions, slightly longer wheel bases, etc., touted as more comfortable for century rides and rides over rougher pavement.
    There is a third, or perhaps just a fractional third. That is the classic mid-to-high-performance steel bike that, if properly maintained or restored, is just drop-dead gorgeous. You can ride one of those forever and ever and love every minute of it, provided of course that it fits.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  22. #22
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Like many have stated, I also feel that your goals are very reachable. I started back into cycling at age 63 after being diagnosed with leukemia, weighing 180 lbs. on a 5' 7" frame. I'm now down to 150 lbs. and riding up to 30 miles or more a day. My first bike was a steel frame comfort bike my wife got for my birthday in 2009, bought my first aluminum frame road bike in October of 2010 and did my first MS 150 in April of 2011. Prior to getting back into cycling, the only exercise I did was the daily pantry to fridge race. Since the MS 150, I have done several 100K charity rides and I'm getting ready to do another one in two weeks and another MS 150 in March on my new carbon fiber road bike.

    I also agree that going for an expensive bike, to start, may not be a good idea because if it ends up that don't like cycling, the bike will become a dust collector wherever you store it. If you want to start off with a new bike, there are some real nice entry level road bikes that you can get into for under 1K. If they have one in your size, you can also see what your LBS has in the way of last years model as those have a fairly nice discount.

    Another suggestion is to get a pro fit when you purchase the bike or soon after. You could go through months of trial and error trying to get your bike dialed in and ride in pain or discomfort while you do so, or just get a pro fit and enjoy each mile from the start. When I got my first road bike, I had no clue what a proper fit on a road bike should feel like and didn't know where to start with the adjustments, if I had to make them myself. I had a Retul fitting done and it was the best money I ever spend on anything cycling. If Retul is not available in your area, other types of fitting services will certainly work.
    HCFR Cycling Team
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  23. #23
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    I must add a bit stronger warning about your bike purchase. If the bike is TOO cheap you will get disgusted with bike riding quickly and wish you had never tried this sport (or should I say, Way of Life). An ill fitting, clunky bike will most definitely transform you into a full time runner. A bike that is worth riding will allow you to make a good decision about diving into the world of bike riding, or staying away.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  24. #24
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smalltown79 View Post
    I've thought about going the used bike route at first as well - maybe pick up a Trek 1.2 or Cannondale or something of similar quality for a few hundred to get me started. I'm a little hesitant to do so from reading all the posts on the importance of getting the proper fit, adjustments, and guidance at a LBS. Then again, I know the frame size I'll need, and there's plenty of guidance on this forum and others on basic adjustments, etc...
    Yes, but bear in mind, a good LBS offers all the same fitting service and guidance when you walk in with a bike you already own. It's just that the fitting won't be free.

    I advocate starting used--especially since you know your frame size--for two reasons.

    1) Cost. Cycling, overall, can be expensive. Shoes, helmet, clothes, cyclometer, lights, lock, tools, pumps, car carrying racks, and other accessories add up quickly. I wouldn't go into debt (use a credit card) for pay for these sorts of things. Unless you have huge cash flow, if you buy an expensive bike up front, you may end up going into hock for the extras.

    2) Learning curve. The purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike. Plain and simple, you can't know what you want out of a bike until after you've been cycling for a while. I started with the functional equivalent of the used Trek 1.2 you mentioned in your post. Mine had been abused and needed some work. It gave me the opportunity to learn how to repair bikes, using something I wasn't afraid I'd wreck. The LBS helped me with the fitting, along with parts and advice.

    Nine months and 4,000 miles later, I knew what sort of riding I preferred and what I really wanted in a road bike. I bought shiny, new and expensive then. Six years later, although there are now four in the fleet, that second bike remains my favorite. Yet I would never have considered it when I first considered road bikes.

    As for your original question, I'd been a sedentary smoker for 35 years when I bought my first bike at age 49. I did my first 50-mile ride in my fifth month of cycling.

    I think cycling only two or three times a week may not get you to that point as fast, but everyone's different.
    Last edited by tsl; 02-09-12 at 07:00 AM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  25. #25
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Yes, but bear in mind, a good LBS offers all the same fitting service and guidance when you walk in with a bike you already own. It's just that the fitting won't be free.

    I advocate starting used--especially since you know your frame size--for two reasons.

    1) Cost. Cycling, overall, can be expensive. Shoes, helmet, clothes, cyclometer, lights, lock, tools, pumps, car carrying racks, and other accessories add up quickly. I wouldn't go into debt (use a credit card) for pay for these sorts of things. Unless you have huge cash flow, if you buy an expensive bike up front, you may end up going into hock for the extras.

    2) Learning curve. The purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike. Plain and simple, you can't know what you want out of a bike until after you've been cycling for a while. I started with the functional equivalent of the used Trek 1.2 you mentioned in your post. Mine had been abused and needed some work. It gave me the opportunity to learn how to repair bikes, using something I wasn't afraid I'd wreck. The LBS helped me with the fitting, along with parts and advice.

    Nine months and 4,000 miles later, I knew what sort of riding I preferred and what I really wanted in a road bike. I bought shiny, new and expensive then. Six years later, although there are now four in the fleet, that second bike remains my favorite. Yet I would never have considered it when I first considered road bikes.

    As for your original question, I'd been a sedentary smoker for 35 years when I bought my first bike at age 49. I did my first 50-mile ride in my fifth month of cycling.

    I think cycling only two or three times a week may not get you to that point as fast, but everyone's different.
    You really won't find better advice on the interwebs than this.

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