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  1. #1
    Junior Member College3.0's Avatar
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    I have tried to love riding a bicycle (Help!)

    Hello Bicycle Forum People,

    There have been 'phases' in my adult life when I was really enthusiastic about starting to ride a bike again. (I think I will enjoy it as much as I did when I was a child).

    However, I always get disappointed when I start riding and remember what an uncomfortable experience it is. I'm only 30 years old, but I've had intermittent issues with my ankles, shins, neck and ears. Nothing that medically contraindicates riding a bike, but I can never seem to enjoy the experience because of discomfort.

    But, like always, the romance and fun of riding a bike keeps sneaking back into my mind. It would be a big help financially if I didn't need a vehicle since I'm returning to college to study nursing.

    I've never been closer to feeling that I could bicycle commute before. I have a stationary bicycle in my apartment and I have been trying to tweak it to see what is more comfortable for me even in a stationary riding position. I have read about this kind of device:
    Cruiser Bicycle Extended Seat Post and was wondering if anybody had thoughts about this type of mod for an inexpensive comfort advantage. I have also seen home-made extenders like the one above, but I don't have the tools or equipment to build anything.

    In my imagination I think it would be ideal for me to have a semi-recumbent. But for now I need to come up with a much more affordable solution if bicycle commuting is going to be a reality in my future.

    Thank you for your ideas and input.
    JAE
    Last edited by College3.0; 06-29-14 at 09:39 AM. Reason: spelling

  2. #2
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    Have you spoken to a local bike shop and do you know for sure that your current bike is fit properly for you?

    my body complained a lot about riding for the first couple hundred miles of commuting. Now it craves it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Some of this may just be that you need to do it and deal with the issues as they arise given that you have no medical issues that suggest why this is occurring. Any exercise hurts and you need to train your body to deal with it.

    That said, you need to think about different kinds of bikes. An old school English 3 speed was a heck of a comfortable bike and makes for an ace commuter. They're around but I'd look for something more modern as that will be easier to modify as need be.

    Something like this Raleigh classic roadster, Raleigh Bicycles - Classic Roadster, would be a good choice. There are other similar bikes out there but that is what I would look for. I'd ride it for a while and talk to people who know something about bike fit before swapping out parts on this bike.

    If you want to save some money, another alternative would be a vintage mtb (i.e., one with a rigid fork) or an older hybrid. These bikes can take very fat tires (esp. mtbs) and a wide tire at low pressure makes for a more comfortable ride. You'll have to learn how to work on a bike if you buy one of these, but that is, I think, a plus. If you are commuting, you will want to learn how to do basic maintenance.

  4. #4
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Get a Real bike and start by doing short rides.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  5. #5
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Consider paying for a fit at a good bike shop from a person with experience, or possibly a recumbent bicycle but they are a bit pricey.

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    I can't help but repeat what others have said... you have to ride the bike before your body will get comfortable on it, no matter how well fit the bike is to you.

    But, the bike needs to be adjusted to fit you, first. You also need to learn how to ride without putting all your weight on your butt.

    I say hang in there... and take an aspirin before riding!

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    OP, I used to get aches and pains starting in my 30s. I accepted it and felt like it was an unfortunate but inevitable result of aging. That was reinforced by my friends and family. Then I got more and more into yoga. I pay attention to keeping all my limbs and torso easily moving thru a wide range and relaxed. Focus on every part of your body and give that part what it needs that day.

    I'm 54 now and feel good. Back and neck pain is in my past. I can ride all day and love it.

    I can say that with age the need increases to be consistently active for long periods of time. But above all focused on making the next day better. Find the level of effort that makes you stronger without wearing you down or causing injuries.

  8. #8
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by College3.0 View Post
    Hello Bicycle Forum People,

    There have been 'phases' in my adult life when I was really enthusiastic about starting to ride a bike again. (I think I will enjoy it as much as I did when I was a child).

    However, I always get disappointed when I start riding and remember what an uncomfortable experience it is. I'm only 30 years old, but I've had intermittent issues with my ankles, shins, neck and ears. Nothing that medically contraindicates riding a bike, but I can never seem to enjoy the experience because of discomfort.

    But, like always, the romance and fun of riding a bike keeps sneaking back into my mind. It would be a big help financially if I didn't need a vehicle since I'm returning to college to study nursing.

    I've never been closer to feeling that I could bicycle commute before. I have a stationary bicycle in my apartment and I have been trying to tweak it to see what is more comfortable for me even in a stationary riding position. I have read about this kind of device:
    Cruiser Bicycle Extended Seat Post and was wondering if anybody had thoughts about this type of mod for an inexpensive comfort advantage. I have also seen home-made extenders like the one above, but I don't have the tools or equipment to build anything.

    In my imagination I think it would be ideal for me to have a semi-recumbent. But for now I need to come up with a much more affordable solution if bicycle commuting is going to be a reality in my future.

    Thank you for your ideas and input.
    JAE
    I don't recommend the seat post extender. You actually want to be sitting right over the pedals for more efficient body mechanics while cranking.

    Having the seat too low is the most common mistake made by beginners. Your saddle should be high enough that your legs are almost fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. This means that when you stop, only the tips of your toes will reach the ground. To stand with your feet flat on the ground, you will need to lean the bike over a little.

    This is scary at first, but you will get used to it before long. Practice riding in a low traffic area until you get used to the altitude.
    Last edited by Roody; 06-29-14 at 02:18 PM.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  9. #9
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    When do you start nursing school? How far do you live from the college? Do you have a list of different hospitals where you will have clinical rotations or practicums? Some clinical locations could be fifty miles away or whatever. So you might need to keep your car until you're done with school.

    You could still save money by car pooling with other students or taking turns driving.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by College3.0 View Post
    However, I always get disappointed when I start riding and remember what an uncomfortable experience it is. I'm only 30 years old, but I've had intermittent issues with my ankles, shins, neck and ears. Nothing that medically contraindicates riding a bike, but I can never seem to enjoy the experience because of discomfort.
    Go to your local bicycle shop and get fitted on your bicycle. What you've written sounds very much like you've never had your bicycle set up properly for you. Or maybe it is completely the wrong size.

    What kind of bicycle do you have?

    What size is it?

    How tall are you?

    What is your inseam length?

  11. #11
    Junior Member College3.0's Avatar
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    Hello everyone, thank you so much for your suggestions. I'll try to succinctly respond to as much of what you've said so far as I can:

    No, I have never been to a bike shop for a fit. I would love to get professionally evaluated and have a nice (expensive) bicycle. However I never have much more than $100 in cash at any given time for discretionary spending (sometimes much less) so the bicycles I've had in the past were either hand-me-downs from family members or refurbished/used. I most recently owned a bike around 2010; it was a Lotus mtb. I don't know much about it except it was not as high of quality or fancy as other road bikes sold under the same brand. But it was decent.

    Regarding my general health/fitness: I'm 5' 4" and 150lbs and going down. Used to be much heavier 8 years ago or so. I do not know the measurement of my inseam. I'm really passionate about all aspects of good health, mental and body and soul. I have a good social support network and good diet but I do find going back to school very stressful.

    I occasionally use an indoor spinner-style bike but I find it uncomfortable to be in a posture that leans forward for much longer than 5-10 minutes. When I sit up straight on the saddle and do not rely on the handlebars, it feels more natural. I can't get away with this trick on the street. I replaced the stock saddle with a good one from a bicycle repair shop, and it is adjusted so my legs are almost fully extended when at the bottom of the stroke. I can go about 20 minutes of moderate riding before I stop from a combination of normal fatigue and primarily wrist tingling/pain.

    Roopull mentioned learning how to ride without putting all the weight on the butt.... This might be really helpful but I'm also interested in a style/approach/bicycle where I won't have to compromise good posture and is as ergonomic for my wrists as possible (where I have the most chronic pain from years of typing and playing instruments).

    Walter S, you've described exactly what seems to be happening to me! I've had a history of minor orthopedic issues over the last fifteen years, nothing serious but each thing leaves a vestige behind and I'm resigning myself to just having the aches and pains of being an older creature. I want to be more consistent with physical activity, but the gym was never really a good fit for me. I'd like the exercise to be more practical.

    Unfortunately whatever solution I decide on will need to be fairly frugal. I do want to avoid any additional repetitive motion or stress injuries so if I decide another bike really is in my future I'd do my best to do it the right way. Part of why I'm going to nursing school is because I just ditched a long-term sedentary job in front of a desk. Even after repeated ergonomic assessments by a physical therapist, I just couldn't seem to avoid being in pain from remaining so motionless for 40+ hours a week. I wanted a job that was more physically active.

    Thank you again everyone. Kind Regards,
    JAE
    Last edited by College3.0; 06-29-14 at 10:26 PM. Reason: syntax

  12. #12
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    If you decide a bike is in your future, don't let the cycling elitist convince you that you need to spend huge money to get a decent bike.

    The dark secret in cycling is that the vast majority of cycling frames are built by a few huge companies in Asia. The differences in most bike frames isn't as big as the industry would like you to believe. So, companies like Fuji or Jamis have their frames built in these huge factories, have the components installed at another factory & have the bikes boxed & shipped to their distributor networks in the West.

    So, for you, the rider, the only real tangible differences are going to be what components are on what frame. The brand names - once you get above the Wal-Mart bikes - won't make a huge difference to you.


    One option would be to explain your situation to a local bike shop owner... have 'em look out for a proper used bike for you.

    Do your research, though. The industry is full of crooks and snake oil salesmen.

  13. #13
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    It seems to me that the biggest thing is having a bike that is fitted properly to you and the right style for the riding you want to do. Have the saddle set too high or too low (hips rocking) and the setback wrong will give you back and knee pain. Bars and controls wrong will contribute to wrist and hand discomfort. Stretching and yoga can help a lot as well. My body isn't as tolerant of poor fit as I get older as it was when I was a teenager.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by College3.0 View Post
    No, I have never been to a bike shop for a fit. I would love to get professionally evaluated and have a nice (expensive) bicycle. However I never have much more than $100 in cash at any given time for discretionary spending (sometimes much less) so the bicycles I've had in the past were either hand-me-downs from family members or refurbished/used. I most recently owned a bike around 2010; it was a Lotus mtb. I don't know much about it except it was not as high of quality or fancy as other road bikes sold under the same brand. But it was decent.

    Regarding my general health/fitness: I'm 5' 4" and 150lbs and going down. Used to be much heavier 8 years ago or so. I do not know the measurement of my inseam. I'm really passionate about all aspects of good health, mental and body and soul. I have a good social support network and good diet but I do find going back to school very stressful.
    What bicycle do you have now?

    Have you ever measured that bicycle? if not ... measure it.

    If it is a road bicycle, use the Park Tools Measurement road positioning chart and instructions to help you measure it.
    Park Tool Co. ParkTool Blog Road Positioning Chart

    If it is a mtn bike, use the Park Tools Measurement mtb positioning chart and instructions to help you measure it.
    Park Tool Co. ParkTool Blog MTB Positioning Chart

    There are detailed instructions with illustrations to help you with the measuring process.

    Also measure your inseam ... in sock feet, from the floor to your crotch. There are lots of articles on the internet to help you do that.


    Next, do you have a friendly bicycle shop or bike coop in your area? A place where you can take your bicycle in and ask them very nicely if they would mind doing a very basic fitting for you. Professional fittings are expensive and lengthy ... I've never had one and never felt the need for it. But a basic fitting will just check a few thing ... like saddle height and saddle foreaft.

    If you don't have a bicycle shop that will go through the basics with you, there are resources online, You might start by going through this one: How to Fit a Bicycle and then read some of the others and make adjustments as necessary.

    You might have a look through this article as well regarding hand and shoulder pain:
    CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS -

    And this about bicycle fit:
    CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS -

    Note what it says in one of the points about your wrist angle:

    4. Your reach to the lever hoods should put your wrists in the "handshake position." That is, a straight extension of your arms, not c o c ked up or angled down, which can cause strain and pain.


    It can be a bit time consuming to go through this process, but it is worth it because you should be able to ride without pain.

    And incidentally, one of the reasons you measure your current bicycle is so that you know, once you've gone through all the fitting process, whether it is actually the right size ... or not. Then if you decide to get another bicycle at some point, you'll have a good idea of what size bicycle will fit you.

  15. #15
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    Aside from the bike fit issue, your near-immediate discomfort when you lean forward, coupled with your substantial weight/height ratio, indicates that you are likely extremely weak in the core of your body. If your abdominals and such are weak, then you won't be able to ride many bikes and the ones you can will put almost all of your weight on your bum, which isn't going to be comfortable in the long run.

    It's time to work on those core muscles. There's lots of things you can do like leg raisers (the best, but take care with your back early in the game), crunches, roman sit-ups and such. If you're going back to school, find someone who knows some anatomy and get an exercise program together.

    This is going to take some time, but you can ride while you build up your core. Start with short rides and work your way up slowly and carefully to avoid the old one-step forward two-steps back routine. Good luck. The joy of being able to ride is well worth a bit of work and some discomfort.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Smallwheels's Avatar
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    Hello College3.0. Welcome to the forum. I don't agree with everything that has been written here.

    About that seat setback; that is a comfortable position for riding and you can get maximum leg extension with it while being able to put your feet on the ground with ease. I don't know how strong such a seat post is. It might bend if you hit a few really big bumps. My bicycle frame is designed to put me into that position. The difference is that the cranks are far forward of the seat tube. That means the seat post didn't need to be curved backward.

    That position will give you good hill climbing ability because you can tug on the handlebars as you push the pedals with your feet. Standing and pedaling might be more difficult with this position. If you ever want to go fast or if you must ride into headwinds this is a very difficult position. I curse this design in headwinds or when I want to go faster. Leaning forward with the legs angled forward is uncomfortable. I wouldn't buy this design again as my all around bicycle. It is good for cruising, not speed.

    Years ago I owned a mountain bike. Due to a neck injury my wrists would ache when pressure was put on them. It is the same pain people with carpel tunnel syndrome feel. This is why I can't ride a bicycle in the leaning forward position anymore. Thus I had to modify my mountain bike. I bought high rise handlebars. This put me in the upright riding position. It wasn't as fast but it was comfortable and I enjoyed it. You might consider this as one modification for your bicycle.

    The jarring of my body was handled with a different component that I recommend to anybody who wants a smoother ride. Get a Cane Creek Thudbuster suspension seat post or something similar. There is another brand that uses a parallelogram design like the Thudbuster and they cost less. I don't know the company name or how reliable they are. I can attest that my Thudbuster LT made all the difference in the world for my cycling comfort. Cane Creek makes another model for street only riding called the ST. It is shorter and might work better for you on a regular frame bicycle.

    Some people have ankle problems, knee problems, or hip pain on bicycles and require pedal extenders. These aren't blocks that go around the pedals. These extend the width of the crank arms. For some people this makes bicycling comfortable again. Without them some people say they can't ride at all. Look into them.

    There are many types of recumbents. I have owned two. One was a tadpole tricycle. It was very fun. The other was a compact long wheelbase with tiller style handlebars. I liked the leaned back position, the aerodynamics, and the easy reach to the bars. What I didn't like after a while was the tiller style handling. To make a tight turn to the right while going slowly the bars would need to be pushed to the left. Both of my recumbents gave a harsh ride on rough roads. There is no way to stand out of the saddle with them. A rear suspension would have been great. Such vehicles cost at least $699 with just a single speed transmission. I know of one three wheeler that would cost under $1000 with a three speed internally geared hub. That is a lot of money. If I ever get another recumbent it will have a rear suspension.
    Smallwheels

    Take my stuff, please. I have way too much. My current goal is to have all of my possessions fit onto a large bicycle trailer. Really.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by College3.0 View Post
    Walter S, you've described exactly what seems to be happening to me! I've had a history of minor orthopedic issues over the last fifteen years, nothing serious but each thing leaves a vestige behind and I'm resigning myself to just having the aches and pains of being an older creature. I want to be more consistent with physical activity, but the gym was never really a good fit for me. I'd like the exercise to be more practical.
    Exploring yoga can be done by just buying a good book or two. It would be good to take a class too, early on if you can afford it. But as an ongoing thing I don't do any of that. It is just a daily personal practice at home or out in the world and doesn't cost me a dime. No gym/other fees. The important thing is to integrate it seamlessly into your life and see and feel the benefit and become attached to it even though you *could* always rationalize not doing it because of other daily concerns. For me that means that it is the very first thing I do every morning. Then the rest of life fits in where it will.

    My comments are directed to the physical benefit but the mental side of it as a conduit for meditation is important for keeping me balanced and feeling like my life is heading down a path that makes sense.

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    Since you're going to college, it maybe time to look at their public transit options. Look at the transit map and see which ones can take to the local shopping district and maybe possible part time employment. Study the time schedules and print out short schedules that have the times the buses leave the school. Most important, learn to time the buses.

    You might not be able to ride long distances but maybe use the bike in conjuntion with the bus. Ride the bike the bus station, park and leave the bike (with a very good U-lock) and have public transit take you to the desired destination.

    We also created a thread where one could use Roller Blades or maybe a Kick Scooter (Xootr) as an alternate (or used in conjunction) with the bus. I'm public transit dependant unlike most of the forum members. However, you are in the majority of the population who do not use a bicycle in their quest to become carfree. Solutions are expensive and no matter what, you'll never convince memebers that your condition exempts you from bicycle commuting.

    One thing is certain, if you remain sedentary, 20 years from now you'll have more pain than today. Keep walking because nurses are always on their feet!

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    I have an upright seating position on my bike! It makes riding very laid back. Might be something to try as well!

  20. #20
    Junior Member College3.0's Avatar
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    Hello again. Thank you all for your tips and advice.

    I do not currently own a bicycle. A fitting session at local bike stores around here goes for $100. That's rather steep for me, plus the cost of getting a new/used bike and modifications (if any).

    Getting a bicycle may have to wait until I have more income. But I will use your suggestions when the time comes for me to get involved in cycling again.

    Best Regards,
    JAE

  21. #21
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Do you have a bike coop on campus? They may be able to help you or know of people who can on your budget.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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