I joined this terrific forum over a month ago so I had better introduce myself.
I am a "50+" cyclist with little experience. I had a couple of bikes in my childhood. However, I bought a Schwinn when I was 18 and had a terrific time riding around Hudson County. I then neglected the sport until 6 years ago when I bought a Cannondale F900SX MTB. This was my first "quality" bike and it really opened my eyes. I also discovered a terrific bike shop in Flemington - Pete's Bike Shop - where the service is nothing short of spectacular. I rode the Cannondale offroad in a wildlife preserve near the South Branch of the Raritan River in my neighborhood for about a month's worth of weekends. However, I quickly became bored for some reason and abandoned riding.
Well after putting on 6 years and about 4 extra inches around my waist (I sported 42 inches around my middel), the wife and I got serious about fitness this year. So in May, I dusted off the Cannondale, brought it to Pete's for a tuneup and tried something differend..I started riding it on the ROAD around my development. I soon discovered that I really enjoyed the feeling of road cycling rather than offroad riding. I was attracted to the exhilaration of "fast" downhill runs and gliding into turns. I started out on a 1.5 mile circuit 2-3 per week (boy, was I pathetically out of shape!). I remember the first time I completed TWO laps, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep for half an hour when I got home! I steadily increased this to about 5 laps 5 times per week by the end of May. In June I stretched this to 8 laps 5-6 times per week and started working on my lap times.
Then In July, I approached the great folks at Pete's for suggestions as to how I could increase my lap times. The guys at Pete's smiled at me and politely suggested that if I wanted to be successful in road cycling, then it would be wise for me to invest in a bike specifcally built for that purpose (duh!). So I put my faith in Pete's and picked up a Felt F4C with the associated propoer equipment (Shimano SPD clipless pedals, Nike riding shoes, Louis Garneau gloves, etc.). The results have been terrific. I now ride 24 miles per day (16 laps) with an average lap speed of 17.4 mph (I do have some hills in the circuit). I have lost 6 inches off my waist and I dropped my weight by nearly 45lbs. To date I have clocked over 860 miles on my F4C.
My goal is to be able to complete 10 laps in 50 minutes (my best time so far is 52 minutes, 26 seconds). My only hope is that with cool weather approaching I will be able to ride through November at least. As a backup, I just purchased a Schwinn IC Pro (there you go, another Schwinn!) for indoor riding on bad/cold weather days. Yep, you guessed it..I got this at Pete's.
I don't think I'll get bored of road cycling anytime soon. I do plan on joining some organized rides in the fall so that I can increase my distance. Who knows, there may even be a Century in my future!
For whatever it's worth, here are the lessons I have learned so far on my cycling journeY:
- Hey, clipless pedals really work! They really do change the way you ride.
- Those crazy handlebars are not bad to use
- That small saddle isn't bad either as you tend to be "suspended" on the pedals most of the time
- Like anything else, you get what you pay for. I really find the F4C carbon frame comfortable as it dampens bumps pretty well
- The importance of a trustworhty LBS can't be discounted. I get the same level of service and professionalism at Pete's that I do at my BMW dealership. Particularly for newbies like me, having someone you can go to with ridiculous questions (and get polite answers) is worth its weight in gold.
- Fat, old guys really can ride racing bikes!!
Enjoy. I am certainly glad to be here.