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  1. #1
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    I'd like to start cycling, but I need some help!

    I've always been athletic (running, mountain climbing, and various team sports), I'm very competitive and I've always wanted to learn more about cycling, but I've never owned anything more than a ten-speed and that's when I was a kid. Where can I go to learn more about cycling? What's the best way to get myself in shape before I even begin? My b/friend is an avid cyclist, but he's of no help at all. His words: "I don't know if you have what it takes." Wanna help me have him eat his words? I think he's hungry! Thank you for any advice you can offer! Kim

  2. #2
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    Hi Kim, and welcome. I would love to see your boyfriend eat his words. There's a lot of questions we would have to answer before we could find that perfect bike for you. If you are athletic and competitive as you say, you will probably not be happy for long with anything less than a very good bike. You say your boyfriend is an avid cyclist. What type of riding does he do? Another important question concerns how much money you have to spend to help him eat his words. With a few more ideas of exactly what your goals would be, we can probably come up with a bike that will help you meet those needs.

    By the way, if you are truly athletic, you definitely are already on your way to being a good cyclist. I hope that athleticism would bring endurance and good muscle tone, but most importantly, a clear idea between the ears of what your body is capable of accomplishing.

    Jeff

  3. #3
    My Alphabit's say "Oooo" InfamousG's Avatar
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    The absolute basics:

    A pro won't win a competition on a Wal-Mart bike.
    An amateur won't win the a competition on a Tour de France bike.

    Your bike should match your skill and your usage. If you want to do distance, you don't want a Mountain Bike. If you want to do trails, you don't want a BMX bike... so on and so forth.

    If you have not decided yet, think about what type of riding would you like to do?
    Vigorous exercise for 30min-1 hour?
    Consistant exercise for 1-3 hours?
    Varying exercise for 3-6 hours?

    Once you figure out what you want to do, then the next step is to figure out how to do it. There is a wealth of information in these forums regarding each type of cycling.

    Also, no matter how athletic you are, changing over to cycling is going to be a hard start. The more athletic you are, the easier the transistion will be, but be ready to find out about muscles you didn't know you had being in pain for a few days.

    "It doesn't get any easier, you only get faster" - Greg Lemond

    Be sure to check out the Training and Nutrition forum for a few tips on keeping yourself in shape and properly hydrated while cycling.

    Don't expect criticism for asking too many questions. Most of us here love hearing about new cyclists coming to the scene and are happy to help

  4. #4
    RidesOldTrek
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    Kimba,
    I'll adapt a saying from one of my other pursuits (astronomy) - the best bike is the one that get's used. If you have a bike now, any bike, just start riding. The best way to find out what you want and need is to ride. Try out as many bikes as you can reasonably try before buying, and definitely don't buy something based only on what other people say about it, regardless of how much they "seem" to know. You've got to ride it to know what it feels like. Even that old 10 speed is probably fine (hey, what's wrong with 10 speeds, anyway? You can only ride one speed at a time.)

    You didn't ask for a comment on the boyfriend, but here's one anyway: he's obviously very insecure, and probably afraid you will outride him. Dump the jerk and spend the time you save riding your new bike. You'll be miles ahead on both counts.

    Good luck, and let us know how it works out!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridesoldtrek
    You didn't ask for a comment on the boyfriend, but here's one anyway: he's obviously very insecure, and probably afraid you will outride him. Dump the jerk and spend the time you save riding your new bike. You'll be miles ahead on both counts.
    Excellent suggestion.

  6. #6
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    Kim,
    Well I am going to have to chime in on this one also. If your boyfriend is not encouraging to join him then I would dump him also. My wife and I returned to cycling to lose weight and better our fitness so we could keep up with our kids! I can ride a little bit better than her but when she wanted to go riding with me I was elated. We went on a very short perhaps 1.5 mile ride through a local park here in town and it was the best part of my day, especially since the transmission went out on my truck later that very day!
    Anyway my advice would be if you think you really would be interested in cycling then find a local bike shop (LBS) and talk to them, you will know you have a good one if they are happy to talk to a beginner. A good bike shop will be more interested in you and the type of riding you want to do rather than just selling you a bike. I don't have a nice LBS bike, I bought a department store bike but I don't intend to compete or race in any form I just want the exercise. I bought a mountain bike that has a label that says not to take it off-road but it works for me, I am on the bike riding! I stay on the road most of the time but some of the subdivisions that I ride in are under construction and it allows me to go "off-road" with out too much of a risk of blowing a tire.
    As ridesoldtrek said if you have a bike just get on and ride it, it will let you know if you like the experience without a great expense. I also have an old 1970s era Peugeot bike that I love to ride, it is at least 25 years old but rides like a dream It is going to be my restoration project. But again I just ride for the enjoyment and exercise. You say you are competitive so I would strongly suggest you go the LBS route and get a good bike, even if it is used. If your boyfriend was truly interested in you, I doubt he is, he would help you to find a bike to ride. And don't over look the used market as you can get a good bike at good price, again your boyfriend should help you with this.
    Anyway just wanted to share my .02 worth, but, as with all forums you get what you pay for.

    Kevin

  7. #7
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimba
    My b/friend is an avid cyclist, but he's of no help at all. His words: "I don't know if you have what it takes." Wanna help me have him eat his words? I think he's hungry! Thank you for any advice you can offer! Kim
    I hope that's his way of motivating you, or an ironic comment based on kis knowledge of how competitive you are.
    Robert

  8. #8
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    I'll agree with pretty much everything that's been said above. If you can get your hands on a bike (friend, family, what ever) to get some miles in before really starting to search for a bike of your own I suggest it. I did the opposite - went out and bought a (department store) mountain bike on a whim (it was on sale) and while I do still ride that bike, my road bike that I bought on ebay some weeks later gets many many more miles.

    Second - if you go the road bike route - dont' do what I did and buy a bike on Ebay or online. (again learn from this guy's mistakes) On a road bike (and to a slightly lesser degree mountain bikes) you really need to be properly fitted with the right size bike. My road bike is a bit on the big side for what I should be riding (63cm vs about a 58-60cm) and while it is fairly comfortable I can tell its just not right.

    If you have any questions, do a quick search on the forums, chances are many beginning cyclists have had the same question and had lots of good replies. But don't let that keep you from posting your own specific questions to the many great people here on the forums. I only started riding again in May of this year, but just reading the forums, asking questions, and generally getting to know the ins and outs of cycling I've come to be a much more informed cyclist. So take some time, do your research and find what type of cycling YOU want to persue (and not just because you want to make your b/friend eat his words - though it sounds like he needs to be put in his place). Best of luck to you.

  9. #9
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    Hi Everyone!

    I aplogize for the global response...

    I would like to thank each of you very much for all of your advice. I was really surprised to see so many responses. As advised, I dusted off the old bike I had in the garage and rode Saturday and Sunday - only about ten miles each day. The bike needs some maintenance work! I may be getting a friend's old road bike, which I'll take it to my LBS and have them help me out with it. The bike should fit for the time being. Of course, if you have any advice about using a friend's old bike please let me know. I'm excited about my new venture!

    As for the boyfriend... well, he broke up with me Sunday night - after I made dinner! It wasn't planned, but I hadn't even finished my meal!! As the Beatles once sang, Obla-dee, Obla-dah... Yeah, right, I'm still bugged! At least I grabbed the bottle of wine before I left.

    Thanks again!!

  10. #10
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimba
    Of course, if you have any advice about using a friend's old bike please let me know. I'm excited about my new venture!

    As for the boyfriend... well, he broke up with me Sunday night -
    Sorry to hear it. Hope it was for the best.

    For the friend's old bike, the first thing to check is to make sure it is not too big. The old-fashioned, simplistic way to do that, if it has a straight, level, top tube, is to stand straddling it with your feet on the ground. The top tube should be an inch or two below your crotch. Much lower and it might be too small, but there are ways to get around that. However, any higher, and you could injure yourself if you have to suddenly stop and get your feet on the ground. Once you check it and find it's in the right ball park, you can get the local bike store (LBS) to assist you in more precisely fitting it or use online resources. If it doesn't have that straight, level, top tube, ignore what I said and listen to others on these forums or go to your LBS or http://sheldonbrown.com. Hell, go to http://sheldonbrown.com anyway.
    Robert
    Last edited by cooker; 09-13-05 at 08:16 PM.

  11. #11
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    Ride those bikes and the experience will tell you what you will want different on your next bike. When you see other cyclists out on the road trail, ask them for advice on riding skills, and their opinions on bikes. You dont have to follow their advice but it will be free.

  12. #12
    RidesOldTrek
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    Kim,
    I was wondering what I had started with my comment on the (now "X") boyfriend. Sounds like the break may be pain worth suffering. When I was in college I really fell for a woman, and when she broke up with me I was hurt bad... but I had a long bike trip planned, two weeks of touring, alone, around the upper half of Lake Michigan. A defining moment on that trip, while bucking a strong headwind on a gravel shoulder, was when I thought, "if ____ was with me now, all I would be hearing is *****ing." When I got back, it was like she never even existed. That's the power of the long ride.

    On the subject of a bike not fitting, I don't recommend going for something the wrong size, but... my old Trek, that I bought before I knew any better, is probably about 1-1/2" too big for me. Well, I've been riding it for almost 30 years now and it has served me fine, it's amazing what you can adapt to. It was the Trek I was riding on that long trip. After you ride a bunch of bikes, the right bike will just feel right, and you'll know it's the one. My wife is a professional photographer, and people ask her all the time what camera they should buy. Her answer is always the same: pick it up and hold it, focus, feel it, then buy the one that feels the best in your hands.

    Good luck Kim!

    Paul

  13. #13
    Warrior Cyclist cycle17's Avatar
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    Kimba,

    All good advice above. I would add one other comment as someone who just became a full time "roadie" aka road bike rider this year. I am 36 and pretty athletic. I run, I hike, I play hockey and downhill ski in the Winter and like Mt. Biking also. I bought a new $500 bike less than a year ago and while it was a good bike, I soon found I should have teken a little more time and bought the bike I have now in the first place. In other words, take some time to ride the bike you have, figure out what you have to spend and buy the best bike you can afford. Then you won't be upgrading again in 6-8 months. If you are althetic and like cycling the investment will be one you'll be happy with for years. Some of the best times I've had this year were riding around my part of the country on my bicycle. Good Luck! and I hope you see your ex boyfriend pedalling down the road one day, catch him and "drop him on the first hill!" LOL
    Just Do It..

  14. #14
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    Welcome to cycling, Kimba. Seems like you are better off without that guy. Pedal away!

  15. #15
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    Again, thank you all for your support! This is such an awesome site! I love it! I went to sheldonbrown.com...thank you for recommending it to me; however, who is this guy? I haven't had a chance to really spend a lot of time at that site, but what's with the beard? He has to have quite a personality!

  16. #16
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimba
    Again, thank you all for your support! This is such an awesome site! I love it! I went to sheldonbrown.com...thank you for recommending it to me; however, who is this guy? I haven't had a chance to really spend a lot of time at that site, but what's with the beard? He has to have quite a personality!
    Ahhhh, you ask about Guru Sheldon <bows in reverence> you must be worthy to receive the wisdom of the great Guru Sheldon.....

    ALL HAIL GURU SHELDON, THE GREAT ONE!!!

    oh, wait a minute, this isn't the Sheldon brown fan thread, is it?!

  17. #17
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    A lot of getting the right bike for you is learning the language/jargon so you can understand a bit of what people are trying to tell you. See sheldon's glossary of bike jargon. If you don't know what something means, ask and ask again when you don't remember, repeat as many times as necessary.

    I finally, kind of understand most of the jargon. The worst jargon is in the type of bike. Different manufacturers have different names for styles of bikes and since there are no standards a bike fo style XX may be identical to style YY of a different manufacturer. It's almost like women's clothing manufactors, you don't know if it fits until you try it on.

    You can't try on hundreds of bikes, so try to make it easier by figuring out what type of biking appeals to you. Figure out what style you like best and then worry about construction and options. Here are the general styles/types of bikes:

    Road bike - lightweight, thin tires, curved handle bars with 3 positions for you to put your hands. Designed so you'ld be comfortable riding bent over to avoid pushing the wind down the road. One of the fastest bikes.

    TimeTrial ["TT"] bike - Faster than a road bike, thin tires, aerodynamic designs, only designed for bend over riding position. Not what you want for a first bike.

    Comfort bike - wide seat, wide tires, designed mostly for slow riding along bike paths.

    Mountain bike - straight handlebars for 1 or 2 riding positions, bumpy thick tires, low gears to go up hills. Designed for bouncing along and letting you ride any surface. Heavy bike for endurance, so don't expect to go super fast with it. But if you want to jump rocks and curbs, this is your bike.

    Hybrid/street bike - anywhere along the line between road and mountain bike, it all depends on the manufacturer. One extreme will be a road bike with straight handlebars, the other extreme will be a mountain bike with curved handlebars. Designed for more upright riding position, which is fine unless you want to go fast or to pedal easier against the wind.

    Cyclocross bike - somewhere between a TT and Mtn bike. It has aero but is strong like a mtn bike. It's designed to take abuse and go fast, but not for carrying things or going long distances, i.e. more than an hour ride.

    Touring bike - this is a road bike style with many/all mountain bike parts and frame so you can ride and ride and ride without being beat up by the harshness of the ride. It will be slightly slower than a road bike because it's build not to break down. It is also designed to carry your goodies on the bike so you don't hurt your back carrying an overweight back pack.

    Recumbent/semi-recumbent bike - designed to be pedaled with no pressure on your hands or back. Tend to be pricier as lower volume bike. Usually bought for either back relief or speed. If for back relief, then they are usually just about the speed of a road bike, but will go slower up hills. If for speed, then they are very close to the ground, and require good skills to ride safely in moderate/heavy traffic. The speed bents are the fastest bike you can buy. Unfortunately the muscles used to power a bent are different than any other bikes. So if you have back problems, or need the highest speed bar none, these bikes are your only choices.

    The easiest and most fun way to narrow down the choices is to ride 2 bikes of each style for at least a mile. After those rides, you shoud have been able to cross some off your list. Have fun, and ask for help and suggestions.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimba
    His words: "I don't know if you have what it takes." Wanna help me have him eat his words?
    One thing that might help a lot in the long run is patience. Some don't end up needing it at all. But some have problems starting out for various reasons (equipment problems, pains, etc....). Just remember that cycling can have bad days which may be followed up by great days.

  19. #19
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    @ Kimba, best advice i can give you:

    Sheldon Brown, Sheldon Brown, Sheldon Brown! Read, Read Read! He the MAN!

    Yes i am a rabid fan.. and as for the fan thread, i made one and it is here:

    Sheldon Brown Fan Thread! Share here

    Oh and uhm, so you are single now huh... hmmm? Nah i am just joking ha ha!! I am not single. But it definately sounds like you are better of without the BF. Biking and bikes are more reliable than boyfriends and sometimes more fun ;-) Then again cuddling up with my frame doesn't feel so great.

    As for competitive, this can be a good or bad thing.. to learn what i mean check out this long thread:

    I am sorry I have to drop you because you look like Lance

    Oh and while i am at it, i think i may as well shamelessly plug my site/articles on my bikes. Maybe my philosophy to bikes appeals to you or maybe not at all, but perhaps you might take something away from it. Especially if you want to build up (or have it build) a low cost but good quality bike.

    http://www.rhizomes.nl/ultimatebike.html

    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html

    Best of Luck!

  20. #20
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    When I returned to cycling after a hiatus of a few years, I found that road bikes no longer suited me. My riding needs and style changed over the years. I purchased a series of bikes 50 dollars and under to transport me and help me define what I wanted/needed in a bike.

    When I purchased my used Phillips AW three speed, I finally found what I was looking for. My next bike was new and modeled after this bike. The only thing it does that the Phillips does not is fold like the new one. The money was well spent since I knew exactly what I was looking for in a bike for me. Do not purchase a bike based on what your boyfriend is riding. His needs and yours might not be exactly matched (no relationship is). Purchase one for yourself and let rides with your boyfriend take care of itself.

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