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  1. #1
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Helping out new cyclists

    I am so pleased..Twice now in the past couple weeks my wife has actually stated she wants to go out riding with me...And we did... My question..
    She has not ridden a bike since teenage age years...I bought her a hybrid bike a couple years ago, hoping it would entice her.. Earlier she had toyed with the idea.
    Well, I tell her bikes are not the same and to learn to do multiple miles is not the same as a spin about the block..I try to feed her some beginning ideas...She is at the stage where she is trying to get familiar with shifting.
    So I tell her about proper bike position. She is uncomfortable on the bike.. Bike position being so important to long rides. Well.She is afraid to put her feet on the ground and jump off her saddle..She also likes those silly saddles without horns...And expects to touch the ground and remain in the saddle..
    Her complaints...Her legs hurt... She demands her saddle be lowered all the way to the cross bar...Afraid of not getting her feet on the ground fast enough..I tell her about things like proper leg position..Leg need be bent when right pedal is at the two oclock position... So, I am afraid she will pull a muscle on the pedal up stroke because her legs are actually pointed upwards at the two oclock positon...Not bent. Among solutions..She thinks maybe a womans bike with a lowered top tube.
    She says her hands hurt...The saddle without the horn...? I think it lowers her body so as to put more weight on the arms... She says traditional saddles hurts her arse....To me those saddles w/o horns do not lead to feeling secure.
    She thinks bikes can be the same as when she was kid and refuses to see the long term functioning and thinks she will never adapt to how cyclists now ride.
    So have any of you been through encouring new cyclists who are unfamiliar with cycling needs and long term adaptability of the human body along with proper equiptment.
    Does anyone think a 'girls bike ' of old can be used for modern cycling and long distance riding...Eventually, I hope she will go on bike tours lasting a couple days...Certainly a trip across the south of France would interest her, as a French teacher.
    Any ideas on how to influence new riders to modern cycling needs. Am I expecting too much too fast...What do you think of the strength of so called 'girls bikes'? I have tried taking excerpts from training books on cycling and spoon feeding her its ideas.....She just thinks she can ride like she used to when she had a kids bike...
    How did you coax your significant other to be a fair rider.. I think she wants to do this..She is just stubborn... I just don't want her to pull some muscles due to poor riding position or to feel unncessary pain.

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of the problems that I come across trying to reach novices the correct position on a bike,is with regard to saddle position. They all want the saddle too low, they all want to be able to touch the ground while seated, and none of them will listen.
    One particular novice that still wanted to ride , but was kept having muscle problems, would not raise his saddle, and eventually I took him to a Gymnasium. We set up the bikes as he wanted, and rode for 5 minutes. This rider was fit, local club runner, but could not not hack it on a bike. After 5 minutes he had the usual leg pains, so got the saddle height to the height he should have had it. No leg pains, and no lack of confidence as the bike could not fall over. This gym also has the Reebok spinning bikes, which have all the possible adjustments on them. Saddle height, for and aft saddle, stem lemgth, rake, bar height. You name it and they have it. We then got an instructor to set the bike up for him, and then readjust to lose the final aches. 2 hours later, and I couldn't get him off the bike. He was still minutely adjusting things. Not me or the instructor, He was.
    He has now turned into a respectable biker, but it did cost him a new bike, as there was no way he could set up the old one to the new style that he wanted the bike to fit.

  3. #3
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Any ideas on how to influence new riders to modern cycling needs. Am I expecting too much too fast...What do you think of the strength of so called 'girls bikes'? I have tried taking excerpts from training books on cycling and spoon feeding her its ideas.....She just thinks she can ride like she used to when she had a kids bike...
    How did you coax your significant other to be a fair rider.. I think she wants to do this..She is just stubborn... I just don't want her to pull some muscles due to poor riding position or to feel unncessary pain.
    You know, when I first started cycling I had the same fears about my feet not being able to touch the ground. It was something I adjusted to with experience. While I understand your concerns, I think you need to be understanding and respectful of hers. If she isn't comfortable in a higher seat position, forcing her isn't the answer. I say, let her choose the position she feels comfortable in for now. I think eventually she'll realise by herself it isn't perfect and there are problems with it. That is your opportunity to offer her advice on how to solve it.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member geebee's Avatar
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    Have you considered something like the giant revive bike (can touch the ground seated and very comfy seat with back rest) to get her confortable with cycling again then ease across to a normal bike if necessary later on.The only draw back is they are not real cheap.
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  5. #5
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Cyclezealot, perhaps you are trying to get too many points across in too short of a time.

    We know so much that it can be overwhelming to a beginning cyclist, who is just trying to learn to make their legs go around.

    I went through the same thing with my wife. She had never learned to ride a bike, and she was 62 at the time.

    Set your goals and expectations much lower. Unless she enjoys the biking, she will quit, and pretty fast. Go real slow.

    If she wants her seat low, set it low. Let her go on short rides with you. I gradually raised my wife's seat about a quarter of an inch at a time (with her permission), until it is now near normal.

    A step-through women's frame may help to relive her anxiety. My wife dearly loves the step-through feature, but she now feels comfortable riding where her feet can not touch the pavement, as long as she has the step-through.

    Take FUN short rides - go to a restaurant near you, take a picnic lunch. Associate riding and enjoyable things.

    Be patient. The skill she is trying to master took you a long time. It may take her even longer.

    Sometimes a husband/SO is so concerned about progress and perfection that they defeat the whole process.

    Your goals of touring in France may not be HER goals. You have got to go with HER goals, which will likely change over time, but possibly may never include France on a bike!

    Good luck.

    (Next month we are riding the Santa Fe Century. I will probably try the 100, she will likely do 25 miles. Tremendous progress. She is now 66 and participating in centuries. You can't ask for any better. But it ihas taken several years for her to get comfortable - ON HER TERMS.)

  6. #6
    Not a senior! townandcountry's Avatar
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    How about getting involved with a bike club that has some beginner classes? My club has "Discovery" classes, where the participants learn about proper bike positions, bike handling, maintenance. They are all beginners, there is no pressure from the "experts" and everyone has fun. Several of the graduates from these classes are joining us on our club rides. Check it out. It might help her to hear what you're saying in another way from someone else.

  7. #7
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    I don't know how feasible this is, but what about a recumbent bike? Those three wheeled trikes are also cool, and they're easy to ride too. They're close to the ground, so that should make her feel a lot better, and it would take the stress out of having a proper saddle that's comfortable for her, and it would solve her problems with having a bad bike fit. You can get a cheaper recumbent. At the Chicago Bike Show, they had some cheaper recumbents going for something like $400.

    Once she does get accustomed to riding, do make sure she has fun on the rides. I'll never forget how much I hated riding when some guy would say "let's go for a ride", then he would proceed to take off into the distance, leaving me struggling to catch up. It would just make me upset and make me hate riding even more. Go at her speed and let her build up fitness, then work on building up the speed once she's feeling better on the bike and wanting to go faster.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I have to be patient, I know...Must be fun for her. She herself is somewhat of a hurry...She wants to get ready for treking way up in the mountains this July at over 12,000 feet...She is afraid of altitude sickness... So the biking has somewhat of an alterior motive....But this is an opportunity for me to get her hooked on cycling, I hope.
    The first ride we went on was somewhat of a disaster..The pressuer on her hands..Her seat is so low, she complains the handlebars are too high... We think it is the seat w/o a horn.Pushing her forward. Sort of feel a little anxious, because if she does not overcome the numbness in the hands she will give up. And we think it to be the saddle/ seat position. Appreciate the ideas...
    First we do have a trainer where she will feel secure from falling and I will check out local bike clubs with instruction for beginners. Even though she had pains from her first ride, overall,she sort of liked the experience. She did like 14 miles round trip..To the beach where we had a nice lunch.
    Last edited by cyclezealot; 04-09-04 at 10:51 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Denver...In regards to step through frames for women.What do you think.. I am prejudiced. I do not consider them serious bikes...Is it something you would use for long rides? Maybe short overnight tours.? They are as strong a frame as regular bikes.? Maybe it is a solution...

  10. #10
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Denver...In regards to step through frames for women.What do you think.. I am prejudiced. I do not consider them serious bikes...Is it something you would use for long rides? Maybe short overnight tours.? They are as strong a frame as regular bikes.? Maybe it is a solution...
    Nora's Specialized Hardrock Mtn Bike is step-through, and it is plenty strong and also heavy, but my identical non step-through Specialized Hardrock is equally heavy.

    We are looking at a Trek 7300 step-through right now. We are going to take her current mtn bike to the dealers so she can ride both the Trek 7300 and her mtn bike one after another so she can get a feel for the differences. Just as soon as it stops raining and snowing!!

    Her Cannondale R300, on which she has ridden 640 miles, is simply not fun for her. he has grown to detest riding on it. Her wrists start aching from the STI sideways motion, she has to go to the drops to get adequate braking power for descending Vail Pass, and she does not like the drops at all. She hates the high TT. So, it was pretty much a disaster buying this. I am glad we did not spend a lot of money on a high-end bike!

    FWIW, when we ride together, it is a totally different ride for me than when we ride alone. I have to accept that, and she also encourages me to ride alone so I get in the challenge I want. As you commute regularly, this would not be a problem for you!

  11. #11
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Denver...Nora's step- through "Hardrock' bike..It is compatable for panniers, lite touring?

  12. #12
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Denver...Nora's step- through "Hardrock' bike..It is compatable for panniers, lite touring?
    Yes, I am sure it would work. I have a Blackburn rear rack mounted on her and my bikes right now with two removable Arkel panniers each (these are the small model) and I am sure a front rack could fit easily. Met a guy in a park in Denver who has toured the world for several years on a similar mtn bike setup with little problems.

  13. #13
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    DNVR. Yes, I recall a retiring Marine at a bike shop in Oceanside. He was readying a Rockhopper for a trip across Australia and parts of Asia..He was towing a trailer that he bought that day.He put semi slicks on it..Looked like a good system for touring. Seems he had put drop bars on it..Did not know they came in step through frames.Right. I am being optimistic...
    If ever I get Gina to tour. it would be across the flat section in the south of France paralleling the Garronne River.Then it would have to be B and B's every night.I have mentioned the idea to her. She thinks it funny.

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tandem?!!
    Find a decent used tandem bicycle, have some tandemers teach you how to handle a tandem properly and taker it easy on her!
    As for stepthru frames not being 'serious' bikes we appartently are not serious riders having covered 'only' 200,000 miles on tandems as a duo, and yes, 4 of our 5 tandems had stepthru frames as my spouse is 4' 10 3/4" tall and I designed them and had the last 4 custom built.
    Check out arizonatandems.com to see a shot of our 26 1/2 lbs custom carbon fiber tandem with its stepthru frame. Serious? Nah, not us! We just have fun riding TWOgether!

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Tandem.. Good starter..I can visualize her just going along for the ride for a long time that way..Not get her ready for altitude sickness avoidance. I suspect I need get her bike on the trainer, to let her work on bike position..That is the first step towards bike comfort, I suspect.
    I usually put my older road bike on the trainer..It has clipless..Suspect you can get more exercise with clipless...Pulling up....But that does not get her acclimated to her bike.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Education is the process of guiding people from where they are to where they need to be. There are no shortcuts. You can't start a coast-to-coast trip in St. Louis.

    It sounds to me like you are trying to get your wife to start at a place that's different from where she is today. I doubt that's going to work.

  17. #17
    Senior Member blueline's Avatar
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    Are you and your wife compatable heights for a tandem? Don't the two riders have to fall within a certain height range to be compatable for a frame?
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  18. #18
    Slow Moving Vehicle Jean Beetham Smith's Avatar
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    Step-thru frames might not be as stiff as a diamond frame, but then your wife is probably smaller than you, and pound for pound, most guys are stronger than most women. So women probably don't need as strong a frame just for riding. If it makes her more comfortable, there's nothing wrong with one. If you are worried about strength for things like tours, look for a true "Mixte" frame, with two top tubes that are continuous with the seat stays. Terry still makes one. Everyone is different, one fall may make one person more determined and another too discouraged to continue. It's best to play it safe and keep her riding in her comfort zone. It may take a while for her to put together all the bike and road skills she needs to be comfortable riding in your style.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Re: Tandem choices
    Tandems, like single bikes, come in different sizes.
    From 18 x 15 to 24 x 21 and other configurations.
    There are also tandems like the Bike Twosday with 20" wheels (made by Bike Friday) that have very low standover heights or like the Co-Motion Periscope (26" wheels) that is extremely adjustable in height and with adjustable pilot & stoker stems. It can accomodate adults and/or kids on the back.
    However with a tandem you must fit 2 folks on 1 bike.
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  20. #20
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Cyclezealot, it sounds like your wife is a candidate for a 'comfort bike' that has a more upright position and lower seat. While it may not be the optimum bike for long distances, it doesn't sound like she is in that game yet anyway. The problem is that if cycling is painful, she won't stay with it.

  21. #21
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    I think you're worrying too much, right now. You see cycling as "your thing" and trying to encourage her, which is sweet. But allow it to become "her thing." If this means you let her ride in an inefficient position for awhile, then let her do it. I think you should let her ride alone for awhile, or at least often. She'll become a vested interest all her own. When we first started riding singletrack, my husband tried to be helpful and offer advice; however, it made things worse. She's having a difficult enough time trying to figure it out on her own already, your advice may sound like criticism or make her nervous. Give her time. Let her be "unserious" if she wants. It may not be "her thing."
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    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    My only comment is on the saddle without the horn. I have 2 ergo seats that I have used now for over 2 years and thousands of miles. It took some getting used to at first but now I will not trade it in for anything. They are very comfortable and no less secure than a regular bike seat. There is no real reason for the horn it does not keep you on the saddle and you do not need to (or should you) use it to aid in turning. Try one for a hundred or so miles and I bet you will love it.

    As far as helping convince the wife about proper adjustments I have never had much success convincing people to change there riding habits if they are set in their ways about it. I once borrowed a friends bike when mine was in the shop after pedaling the thing for two blocks I stopped to find out why it was so darn hard to ride. The brakes on both wheels were rubbing, I did a quick adjustment on them and went on my merry way. When I got back I told him about the adjustment and he got mad at me because "thats the way they are supposed to be" even after explaining to him that brakes are not supposed to rub all the time it makes it hard to pedal and asking him if the brakes on his car always rubbed he still won't budge. He even made me adjust them back, I figure that he is still ridding that bike like that to this day. He must have pretty strong legs by now
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  23. #23
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    A nice mixte with mustache bars! Ok, Ok, way too "out there".

    Last summer my wife decided she wanted to ride with me. We started her out on a comfort bike at the beginning of the summer. By August she decided it was a "granny bike" and we traded it in on a Trek 1200c. With its sloping top tube, cushy seat and relaxed geometry, it is far less intimidating than a full racing bike, but it's still a pretty quick recreational ride.

    But you're not going to buy your way out of the problem. If she asks for help give her exactly what she asks for. Always be positive, but know when to shut up. If she ignores your suggestions let her. Eventually she'll either come around or just give up. The worst thing that could happen is that it becomes a negative experience because she perceives your "help" as nagging, hectoring and condescending.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice..I over react because of her claim that her hands hurt. I figure it is caused by improper position... HOw to get her to not hurt so much and not nag her about position is a delicate balance. When her saddle is so low, can't figure why the handle bars are not automatically high. She asks me for advice, yet I must not nag.
    Again, a balancing act... Last ride a good female rider and friend rode with us..
    She was a little impatience with this saddle and blamed it for the pressure on her hands.
    Maybe, I should get 'professional' advice at a bike shop or bike club in helping her to solve her aches, so I am not the one to nag.Sometimes outsiders are more believable.

  25. #25
    RayG rgarza28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    Lots of good advice..I over react because of her claim that her hands hurt. I figure it is caused by improper position... HOw to get her to not hurt so much and not nag her about position is a delicate balance. When her saddle is so low, can't figure why the handle bars are not automatically high. She asks me for advice, yet I must not nag.
    Again, a balancing act... Last ride a good female rider and friend rode with us..
    She was a little impatience with this saddle and blamed it for the pressure on her hands.
    Maybe, I should get 'professional' advice at a bike shop or bike club in helping her to solve her aches, so I am not the one to nag.Sometimes outsiders are more believable.
    Yup, sometimes hearing it from an outsider does makes a difference. Once they figure it out, they turn to you and ask, "Why did you tell me that". But ... but ... but. That has happened to me several time.

    Maybe she is a reader. Try going to a bookstore and look at several cycling books (or mags) that explain proper seating and let her read it. Maybe then it will become clear to her as to what to do.

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