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  1. #1
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    In Need Of Encouragement

    Some encouragement would be really helpful. I bought my new bike (Specialized Hardrock) a week or so ago and have found the entire biking process frustrating. I'm sure it's more overload since it's so new to me.

    I'm not sure I like the bike after putting maybe 15 miles on it. I can't figure out why other than inexperience. Something is just "off".

    It didn't help that I was in the shop today wanting the clipless pedals and saw this other mountain bike (don't know what it was called) but it ran 1400-1500 dollars. It had hydrolic brakes and was simply jaw dropping. I haven't ridden it so I don't know what it's like. It's a Trek bike..might be a Fisher one? It wasn't there when I bought my bike and given my lack of experience, I figured keeping my dollar amount between 500-600 dollars was smart.

    My body has gone into overload. It finally hit me last night that I've been going through caffeine withdrawal as I haven't been going through soda. That explains the irratibility and the killer headaches. I'm eating better because my body is demanding better care. It's a good thing, but the withdrawal has been hard and my body is complete confusion. I can tell a change and for once my back isn't giving out on me keeping part of the reason not to give up.

    The hills are killing me. My whole neighborhood is full of gradual hills and you can't escape them. I can do about a mile or so and my body gives out. If my kids are there to push me, I can do a little more. It's so discouraging as I don't want to face another hill when I'd rather be riding free and clear.

    Is all of this normal when you first start riding and will it all even out over the next few weeks?

    I'm not asking if I should buy the more expensive seductive "you know you want me" bike. I can do that on my own. The thought of wrecking that expensive of a bike would make me sick.

    Just let me know the frustration and overload will go away and the hills will get easier. Or..will the ride be easier on a 1400 dollar bike making it over rule some of the frustration? I also figure I can treat myself to a more expensive bike once things get easier.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    More money won't fix a bike not properly "fitted" to you or a body not used to riding. When your bike is fitted right to you then riding is almost automatic. And you'll know when your getting in better shape!

    Solve those two concerns then ride awhile before you get all gooey eyed at a different bike.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  3. #3
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    Is all of this normal when you first start riding and will it all even out over the next few weeks?
    Yes! It may take more than a few weeks. But one day it will happen, and
    it will happen all at once. I went from struggling at twenty to doing an
    easy 40 in less than a week, after riding for a couple months, every day.
    EVERY DAY! DID YOU HEAR ME?? EVERY DAY!!!

    I started on an $88 Walmart bike, One year ago. and it was pure hell!

    About a week and maybe thirty miles total, I was ready to take the bike
    back and walk home.

    Read!\l/

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...reaching-goals!
    Last edited by BHOFM; 05-14-11 at 08:50 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Try to ride a little bit every day. If you can, head out in a different direction each day and vary your route as much as you can. Whatever you do, don't get into the rut of riding the same route every day. If you do that, farther and faster will happen on their own.

  5. #5
    Senior Member green427's Avatar
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    Two things come to mind: You are making too many changes at once, and you are pushing yourself too hard too soon.

    Take baby steps...a couple miles one day, and gradually increase your mileage. Don't change bikes or bike parts until you've ridden about a hundred miles so you get an idea of what you would like to change.

    I can relate to the excitement and drooling over all those other expensive bikes. The bike shops have to mop up after I browse them. Try not to look at them while in the bike shop. Remember, a $1500 MTB is not necessarily much better than a $500 MTB.

    As for your diet, I suggest you keep your diet the same until you get used to the bike, then gradually reduce what you don't want to eat or drink. Go to your nearest bookstore and pick up a book on bicycle training, they are very helpful and encouraging.

    Sounds like you have a LOT of willpower and motivation, which is a very good and rare thing. Dive into bicycling too fast and you will burn out fast.

    Give yourself a few weeks to get used to everything, and it will become a fun thing to do. As for hills...yeah, they are a chore, you might want to find other areas to ride and alternate.

    Hang in there and keep us posted!!!!

  6. #6
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    Drink some coffee and make the headaches go away! Caffeine can be your friend - it's not a health hazard. Drinking too much pop is another story, though.

    Don't expect immediate superhuman fitness......ride some every day or two and gradually increase your activity.

    Agree that there may be little real difference between your bike and one that costs twice or even three times as much.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  7. #7
    Senior Member vision646's Avatar
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    I have to agree with most of whats been said. Take it slow, don't kill yourself trying to do a bunch of miles just get used to riding right now. As for your diet, I'd go ahead and start eating better but don't go cold turkey on the caffeine yet. Caffeine addiction can be a difficult and uncomfortable thing to break so wean yourself slowly. You're making a lot of good changes don't let caffeine wreck everything, you can always kick that habit later.

    Just keep pedaling.
    I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents. Not because I'm an expert but because I have a keyboard. -canam73

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    There is nothing wrong with a nice cup of coffee! Or two or three or.....

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1. Make sure your bicycle fits you properly.

    2. Make sure you've got a good saddle.

    3. GRADUALLY increase your distances on the bicycle.

    4. Stay off caffeine for 3-4 weeks, then add a small amount of it back in. Coffee or tea, in limited quantities, is actually good for you. If your usual source of caffeine is soda, avoid the sugared soda. Those are pointless calories.


    What is a nice, comfortable distance and route for you right now? Is it 3 relatively flat miles around the neighbourhood? (Guessing 3 because you bought the bicycle a week ago, and 3 miles * 5 days = the 15 miles you've done so far).

    Take a couple days off and then do the 3 miles a day each day for the next 5 days.
    Take a couple days off and then try alternating between 5 and 3 miles for the next 5 days.
    Take a couple days off and then try doing 5 miles a day for the next 5 days.
    And keep building up your distance.

    When I first started cycling "seriously", I thought I was in decent shape. I had been doing a lot of walking. I hopped on the bicycle and managed exactly 2 miles with a stop for a rest at the 1 mile point. I could hardly believe I was so out of shape!!! But I determined to keep at it, and the next day I did 2 miles straight through. Gradually, I build up my distances until about 3.5 months later I did a 50 mile ride.

  10. #10
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    we didn't ask a few important questions. Did anyone help you adjust the saddle/seat hight with or for you? Are you comfortable with the reach to the bars? If the saddle/seat is too low your legs will tire out much faster than you might expect. Make sure to check the air in your tires. Until you get used to riding simply not pushing a bigger or harder gear than necessary will make life a lot easier. As far as climbing hills with a 22 small ring in the front and a 32 tooth cog in the back you should be able to climb a wall if you just take your time. You will be fine just keep at it.

  11. #11
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    I have a 17.5 inch frame. I'm 5'10. The guy insisted that's what I needed after trying a few out. Yes, he helped me with the saddle although he wanted it much higher than I could actually manage at the time. I had to lower it just to get on the bike or I'd nearly fall over to the other side or drop the bike onto my feet. My flexibility has increased and I've been able to get over the bike easier and raised the seat a little higher.

    My son's bike has been in the shop for a week adding most of the miles on it. He's got the same bike except it has 29 inch wheels. I actually liked the 29 inch tires, but again, couldn't get on the bike without nearly falling off.

    I added the clipless pedals yesterday. They have regular pedals on one side and the part for the shoes on the other. He's ordered several sizes of shoes and said to come in the end of next week to try them out. I like these pedals as they are smaller.

    I did pick up a book at Barnes and Noble and went through it. It was okay until it went into massive training for races and killer diets. Most of the books I've flipped through are more into the training for serious racing. The part I did appreciate was emergency stops for the bike. I'm not strong or agile enough to use most of them, but showed my son in case he needed to stop or turn the bike.

    I haven't completely changed my diet by any means. I hadn't planned on making massive changes. I bought the bike to ride with my son, not specifically for losing weight (although I figured it couldn't hurt). I was just surprised when my body started rejecting so much of what I eat and was demanding better food and protesting against soda (my weakness) so soon. I haven't quit anything cold turkey, but apparently enough to leave me on caffeine withdrawal and eating half of what I normally eat a day.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you're having trouble getting on your bicycle, I wouldn't go for the clipless pedals just yet.

    Work on getting that saddle height up to what it should be, and you'll likely find riding quite a bit easier. BUT do mention to the guy in the shop that you're climbing hills. That makes a little bit of difference in the optimal height of the saddle.

    It doesn't sound like you're at the point where you need to worry about serious training. Focus on gradually getting your distance up.

    What distance do you comfortably ride now?

  13. #13
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    That's a great bike to start with. Remember that. You have to get you started, a little bit at a time. The headache goes away, the riding gets easier and the smiles follow. RIDING A BIKE IS FUN. Make sure it's set up for you, and just take those hills one at a time.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member vision646's Avatar
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    A rough estimate for how high the saddle should be is that if you have the pedal all the way at the bottom and you place the heel of your foot on the pedal your leg should be completely straight (knee locked out). If its much lower than that you'll be using a lot more energy than you have to, and will put a lot of stress on your knees. If it seems like the saddle will be too high after adjusting the saddle try reading Sheldon Brown's little article about how to start on a bicycle.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html
    I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents. Not because I'm an expert but because I have a keyboard. -canam73

  15. #15
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Ride as long as you feel like riding. Bike fit is paramount. Nothing else is as important. I have a craptastic Schwinn Mirada bought for $25.00 of Craigslist that fits me perfectly. It's heavy, but it's a joy to cruise around on. We've gone on 50 mile rise complete with hill and headwinds. Just keep riding. As far as the caffiene issue- make one of your regular rides to a coffee shop. Keep picking a coffee shop further & further out. Did that with bars. After a while, I rode past the bars. Or not.

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    Shave the weight first, then go for a "cycling program".

    Maybe you need a little more walking/ jogging before you jump on the bike. You can also just do a few miles on those hills and then come back, put the bike on the garage and go for a one hour walk, etc.

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    If you are new to cycling, stay away from clipless pedals. You need to be able to ride on autopilot to use them safely.
    A 17.5" is approx the right size for a 5'10" rider. Make sure that the saddle height is correct.

    If you are commuting on the road then the only upgrades that will really help are slick tyres. You can keep the knobbly tyres for playing offroad or for snow.
    The Hardrock is OK in the quality dept and a popular choice.

    Read Sheldon on how to mount a bike. You can tilt the bike down.

    As a newbie you should ride by time rather than distance. Start at about 10-20mins and increase gradually. Just get some saddle time, dont worry about speed or any training nonsense.

    Hill require the use of gears, you gear down before you need to so you maintain a nice pedalling rate (cadence). Most beginners ride in too high a gear at too slow cadence. 60-80 revs at an easy heartrate/breathing should be OK.

  18. #18
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bethany View Post
    Some encouragement would be really helpful.
    You go girl!

    How's that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bethany View Post
    The hills are killing me. <snip> Is all of this normal when you first start riding and will it all even out over the next few weeks? <snip> Just let me know the frustration and overload will go away and the hills will get easier.
    What you're going through is perfectly normal for those of us who are starting out after many years of not cycling.

    I went 35 years between bike rides. Five years ago when I bought my first bike, I rode it home from the LBS. I had to stop and rest halfway. Since then, I've gotten a cyclometer and I've measured. The total distance was two-thirds of a mile, just over a kilometer. Yup. I had to stop and rest after one-third of a mile, or about 600 yards.

    With determination, and riding every day, I was able to make it to ten miles after a month or so. Then, it was just a matter of stringing together 10-mile rides. I'd ride 10 miles and rest, ride another 10 and so forth. Five months later I could do 50 miles that way. These days I take the long route to work, 17 miles in about an hour, (the direct route is 4½ miles) simply because I can.

    Hills absolutely killed me for the first few months, and I actively avoided them. And we don't have significant hills around here either. As much as I hated it, I realized the only way to get good at hills was to ride up a lot of hills.

    There are two keys to riding up hills. 1) Technique and 2) Perseverance. There are two main techniques. The first is to find an easy gear (start with your easiest) and sit and spin. The other is use a slightly harder gear and stand on the pedals. Your body, bike, and terrain will tell you after a while which is best in which situations.

    At first, freeway overpasses (15-20 feet) were killers for me. Twenty-eight months after that first 2/3 of a mile ride, I rode my bike to the top of Mt Evans in Colorado--14,160 feet. (Okay, we started at 10,000 feet, but still...)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bethany View Post
    Or..will the ride be easier on a 1400 dollar bike making it over rule some of the frustration?
    Nope. Throwing dollars at the problem won't make it easier.

    Determination and perseverance will.

    You will get better, and it will get easier with determination and perseverance. At first, every ride will be a challenge. After a while, you'll be able to mix easy rides with challenging ones. Further along, you'll laugh at yourself over what you used to consider challenging, and the formerly impossible, will become the new challenging.

    At least that's how it worked for me.

    Save the nice bike for a reward.

    EDIT: Speaking of second bikes as rewards, the other reason to defer the purchase is that right now, you don't know enough about yourself as a cyclist to decide what bike is best. It's long been said, and I repeat it endlessly here, that the purpose of your first bike it to teach you what you want and need in a second bike.

    Sure, that shiny 29" dual-squishy MTB looks nice in the showroom now, but a year from now, you may decide that a fitness hybrid, or a balloon-tired cruiser, or even (gasp!) a road bike is the better choice for your riding style and preferences. Or it may turn out that 29er is just the ticket. But right now, you can't know. So don't worry about it. Any bike is just fine for your first bike. Ride it often, and ride it proudly. It'll teach you what you need to learn.
    Last edited by tsl; 05-15-11 at 10:19 AM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  19. #19
    Intrepid Bicycle Commuter AlmostGreenGuy's Avatar
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    You bought an awesome mountain bike. Remember that. A Hardrock is no slouch.

    If you'll primarily be riding onroad with your offroad bike, consider getting onroad tires (like Serfas Drifter Citys) for it. If you'll be doing a bit of both, get something like Kenda K-Rads. K-Rads will handle hard packed dirt, yet still roll well on pavement. Offroad tires that come with mountain bikes do not roll well on paved roads.

    If you'll be onroad, pump up the tires to their maximum PSI. You'll feel more vibration, but you'll need to use less effort to go forward.

    If your suspension fork has a lockout, lock it for onroad riding. A suspension fork can soak up tons of your effort when doing hills.

    Fit the bike to your body:
    http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb...ke-like-a-pro/

    Please take your time. You're using some muscles you never normally use. It takes time to build up those leg and core body muscles. Hills are a killer at first, but they do get easier. It just takes time, work, and patience. Take a day off for every couple days that you ride. Muscles do need a rest to rebuild themselves properly, just like knitting a broken bone.

    Drink lots of water. It will help you feel better. If you need energy, learn to like coffee to tea. They are far better sources of caffeine than soda of any kind.

  20. #20
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    What ever you do, don't cut down on caffeine and start riding at the same time.

    The lack of caffeine will make you tired and grouchy. Use the same amount you were used to, and drink enough water to stay hydrated. Once you have been riding for a while, then deal with the caffeine issue. No matter when you do it, you will feel tired. Try and remember that as you get tired on bike rides. It's hard to tell the difference between riding tired and caffeine withdrawal.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  21. #21
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vision646 View Post
    A rough estimate for how high the saddle should be is that if you have the pedal all the way at the bottom and you place the heel of your foot on the pedal your leg should be completely straight (knee locked out). If its much lower than that you'll be using a lot more energy than you have to, and will put a lot of stress on your knees. If it seems like the saddle will be too high after adjusting the saddle try reading Sheldon Brown's little article about how to start on a bicycle.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html

    +1

    Sold a bike to someone a while back and noticed she was trying to start while seated. Mounting a bike is so natural for me that I probably would not have even thought about it had I not seen this on Sheldon's site.

    http://home.swbell.net/mpion/startstop_movbig.html[/QUOTE]

  22. #22
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bethany View Post
    Just let me know the frustration and overload will go away and the hills will get easier.
    Done! The frustration will go away and the hills will get easier.



    Seriously. The hills really do get easier. When I got back into biking in 2001, I was aghast that I could not even ride the bike the half mile or so back to my house. A half mile! I was fine until I hit the moderate hill that is the last four blocks. Then I downshifted through all my gears in the very first block, ran out of breath, and I recall having to step every half-block or more to catch some air and let my heart slow down.

    Keep at it. Try to keep it fun. Don't push yourself so much that you turn biking into a miserable event. Consistency over long periods of time is what will make the difference. Ride enough to have fun. Push yourself just a wee bit. Keep that up for the long haul.

    I would avoid clip-in pedals. Save the money until you're doing longer rides and avoid the frustration of falling over because you didn't remember to unclip. The bike industry pushes clip-ins much too readily upon new riders. They are not necessary, and many of us do not bother to use them.

    I agree with the earlier recommendation about getting some street tires for your bike. Look for some hybrid-bike tires designed for street use. Your bike will roll much easier on pavement. You'll get a much bigger benefit from swapping tires than you'll get from going to clipless pedals.

    For hills, try and find a low gear that you can sustain. Then pedal at a slow and easy pace. It's that long-term thing again. Don't try to conquer a hill by rushing up it. Take it slow and easy and just keep moving forward.

    Above all, try to keep things fun. If riding is fun, then you'll ride more, and riding more works in your favor. Good for you for getting on the bike and getting started. (And nice of you to buy your son a 29er too )

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    Here is what once was a two rest stop mountain. Now I don't even notice it.
    Big ring, third gear, don't even slow down.


    The one thing I have not over come is the large bakery just to the right of
    the picture, the cinnamon rolls smell sooooo good!

    BTW, the top of this is the highest point in the city limits!


  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vision646 View Post
    A rough estimate for how high the saddle should be is that if you have the pedal all the way at the bottom and you place the heel of your foot on the pedal your leg should be completely straight (knee locked out).
    Actually, if she's doing any climbing the saddle should be ever so slightly lower than that. So when she places her heel on the pedal, her leg should be straight, but not "knee locked out" ... it should be a relaxed straight. If her saddle is too high, especially when climbing, she'll run the risk of developing achilles tendon problems.

  25. #25
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    My town is a one stop-light town that intersects two highways. It's one mile from one end of the town to the other with the stoplight in the center. Most of the riding will be done on the rural grave/dirt roads outside of town or I would have considered a hybrid or street bike. I hadn't planned on doing much in town riding as the block intersections aren't marked for stop signs and cars just drive as they feel like. Because you are always slowing down each block to check for cars, it's hard to keep the momentum going to make it up the next hill and out of town.

    I did check out the links, thank you so much for the information. I've learned a lot..that I can't get on/off a bike right..LOL. Have to practice that one.

    I do like the pedals, even if I don't buy the shoes, having the option to flip to one or the other is really nice. They are small and I don't feel like I'm getting caught up in them as I go or that I'm sliding off of them.

    I usually walk a mile in the evening. I use my bluetooth and talk to DH while he's driving home at the same time. He has a bluetooth built-in system in his car and it helps his hour or so ride home. So if you see some crazy lady talking to herself walking down the road, that's me.

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