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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 04-06-12, 04:00 AM   #1
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"First Bike" Stories

For whatever reason, the internet seems positively abuzz with "What bike should I buy?!"threads. And the internet is usually pretty horrible about giving some kind of coherent answer. Thus, I see many people running headlong towards the same mistakes I and others have made with our first or first in a long time bike. Perhaps a different approach is in order. What'd you buy? How'd it work out? Would you do something different?

So I'll start....

In March of 2007, after wrestling my weight down to maybe 265 from 300 or so and having spent all winter reading Mike Magnuson's Heft On Wheels, I decided I needed a road bike. I think about the only consensus I could find on the internet as far as advice was that I needed 105. And a triple, but only if I ignored the 49.799% who swore a compact double was just as good.

One fine laundry day, I found myself in the bike shop and talking road bikes. If you've bought a bike or two before, you know how this works by now. You somehow get in a mode where You Will Not Leave Until You Have Purchased A New Bike. $1000 deeper in debt to MasterCard later, I was the proud owner of a new Trek 1500. I liked the color. The internet would have approved of the 105 and Ultegra drivetrain bits.

After a short spin, I called a few of my derelict friends up to celebrate with a beer or eight and promptly forgot all about the aforementioned laundry. The next morning, I had to restart the whole laundry process, but managed to get home in time for a 35 mile ride. I discovered two things, 1: road bikes can just gobble up the distance (compared to my old, ill fitting MTB) and 2: A good long ride does wonders for a hangover.

Got many miles in on that bike over the course of the summer. That rear 24 spoke wheel gave me some grief, but always got me home. Eventually trek replaced it with a slightly better 24 spoke wheel that was slightly less drama prone. Found myself down around 220 by the time fall came around....

...and then I bought a cyclocross bike. With Sora. The internet was horrified!

And really, I've never looked back. I sold the Trek a few years later. That same CX bike has been hauling me to work, touring, gravel road racing, trail riding, and ever CX racing.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Although I discovered a skinny tire road bike is the least appropriate bike for how I like to ride, it set the hook. And really, all those lightweight, slick components made getting started a lot easier. Now that I'm stronger and more mechanically knowledgeable- I don't mind pushing some ~30lb battleship down the road on fat tires with klunky components. It's fun to think of how much money I might have saved if I had just bought the CX bike first. But if I didn't have that Ultegra going snick-snick-snick and those lightweight easy spinning wheels with the skinny tires to lure me in, would the CX bike just be a drying rack for some 40"+ pants right now?

After watching many people try and fail at the bicycle thing, the one thing I've learned is that more than anything- it's a lifestyle commitment. Not only does it take a lot of time and money, but it changes a lot of things in your life. I've done things I never would have dreamed I was capable of. I have a whole new set of friends I never would have hung out with before. Even my career has gone down a path I never would have expected.

Buy into the whole deal. The fancy bike. The dorky shorts. The snobby bike shop. You'll get out of it what you put into it. Look around at those who've made the cycling lifestyle stick. Do what I did and do what they do.
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Old 04-06-12, 11:59 AM   #2
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great story and the truth.... thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-06-12, 12:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Askel View Post
Buy into the whole deal. The fancy bike. The dorky shorts. The snobby bike shop. You'll get out of it what you put into it. Look around at those who've made the cycling lifestyle stick. Do what I did and do what they do.
Seriously, that's what it's all about. Just freaking do it ... jump in with both feet
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Old 04-06-12, 12:19 PM   #4
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My first bike story might be different from others as I was not out of shape when I started riding. I was 6'1 and 210 lbs. I played several sports so adapting to cycling was fairly easy. I actually bought a Huffy MTB form Target for $169. After working out I did loops around the hood for the first week or two. The next 2 weeks I did a few more loops. Butt quickly adjusted to the seat and after a suggestion from a coworker, I hit the river trail for the first time.

My first ride on the trail was 65 miles. Yorba to PCH then across to Balboa and back. Wow, that was fun but the bike was creaky. I did it a couple more times then bought a Myata hybrid about a month later. A month after that I signed up for a 100 mile ride. The start of my cycling shorts life. I gave the Huffy MTB to some underpriviledged kid about a week later.

I didn't ride consistently after that, maybe 2000 per year along with other sports. Then in 96 I bought my first roadbike (Trek 1200). I quickly learned about wheel problems going through quite a few including hand built wheels and different shops. Going through maybe 12 quality bikes since then building my own wheels seemed to be the answer to my wheel problems. After 70,000+ miles (anywhere from 4500-7300 per year) I'd pretty much ride any bike and brand as long as it fits and the wheels hold .

My first decent quality bike doing a 35 miler with Gina on the trail (back in 94?)

beginning by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

Ginabike94 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 04-06-12 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 04-06-12, 12:25 PM   #5
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I don't use my bikes for drying racks - it's too easy to get grease on the clothes.

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Old 04-06-12, 12:27 PM   #6
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I inherited a nice mountain bike, Trek 3900, from my step son. He never rode it so I took it over, he eventually said to keep it. I liked it, had a lot of fun on it, I didn't realize it was a tank when I first started riding it. After a while, and much research, I realized/decided I wanted something engineered for the road. At my size, 315 at the time, and after reading all the recommendations, I figured a hybrid was my best bet, so I started putting away my pennies. My brother who is an avid cyclist for over 25 years had just rebuilt an old road bike he found in the dumpster and told me to test ride it.

I was hooked!

I found myself feeling limited on the mountain bike, I no longer wanted a hybrid, I started putting away more pennies. Did some more research, test road quite a few bikes.

What did I buy? I found a Cannondale CAAD8 that was on sale and on clearance. Put her on layaway, sold a bunch on things on Craigslist. Paid it off in about 6 weeks and rode her home.

How'd it work out? I absolutely love my bike! I wish I had more time to ride. Working 40 hours a week with a very active 6 year old son doesn't afford me much "me" time. Especially when that me time is a few hour bike ride.

Would I do something different? I don't know. If I had jumped straight onto a road bike instead of breaking my body in on the mountain bike, I might not have stuck with it. The Trek was easy and fun to ride, with a nice fat cushy seat. I think if I went straight to the seat I have now, I may have never gotten back in the saddle.

Overall I am very happy with how things went and worked out.
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Old 04-06-12, 12:58 PM   #7
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I bought my first "real" road bike in high school... it was a low end Peugeot something or other. 10 whole speeds - 5 in back. Had shifters on the stem, those goofy brake extensions so you could brake from the top and it weighed a ton. I crashed it one day on the way to school (lived in Denmark at the time)... hit a ditch in the bike path that I didn't see on account of the sun in my eyes. I was booking down a hill and next thing I know I'm on my back and some construction worker is unbuckling my belt. I'm not sure what that was supposed to help and I don't think he was being nefarious but it was certainly odd. My front wheel resembled a heart and the fork was bent at the lower head set race, and the frame was a little bit buckled where the top tube meets the head tube and the down tube meets the head tube. I continued to ride it for years with a new front wheel but that was my first experience with "toe overlap." Yay for steel. I barely rode it after 10th grade though and it slowly rusted it's way into the dumpster.

My second bike was (still have it) a Bianchi Campione in 1992 when I moved to San Diego. 7 speed RX-100 downtube shifters, woo hoo! I used to commute to work (16 miles each way, not bad). Later I moved to Singapore and started riding with a group of skinny roadies. I got sick of being dropped and they all had STI so... I bought an ultegra 9 speed group and installed it. New Mavic Open Pros and bam, I was in business. I was basically a mini-clyde for the duration with that bike - about 6'2" and 203 - 207. I lifted a lot and ran some and rode my bike some.

My third bike was an abandoned Merlin Road with Dura Ace 8 speed on it. The DA was mostly non functional and the bars were some hack job of a home made tri kit - so about 3 years ago I busted out my wallet and bought a bike build kit (had everything except for frame and fork) and built that bad boy up. I believe the fork is aluminum with a steel steerer though, what an odd choice.

That stem was stupid long (replaced with a shorter one later) and the frame was frankly too big for me (I think it measures about 60 or 61 cm) and although it was a terrific frame I could never get the shifting perfect because of the old crank (square taper, spacers weren't *quite* right on the chainrings). My hands were constantly numb too

I got jonesing for some carbon... wanted to use my nice carbon cranks that I couldn't get on the merlin, and I also wanted a carbon fork so I found a nice Specialized roubaix frame on ebay for a reasonable amount and moved everything from my merlin to my new roubaix.

I have to say that each bike along the way was a rather massive improvement over the previous bike and my fillings are really happy with the new frame too. Maybe one of these days I'll remove some spacers from the stem and flip that thing over but for now it's a very comfortable place to spend a few hours.

Anyway, slowly working my way back down to my previous mini-clyde weight on my "new" bike and enjoying every minute of it.
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Old 04-06-12, 01:00 PM   #8
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Technically this was my second since coming back to riding, but it's the first that I bought, so I'll go with that. Right?

Hardrock by bdinger, on Flickr

I bought that bike in.. 2006, and it served me very well for a number of years. At the time I bought it, I was riding a old Raleigh MTB that I "borrowed" from my brother and it was breaking a lot. Chains, needed brake pads, tires.. it was nickel and diming my limited funds. So I decided that I wanted a new bike and looked at a lot - but that one hooked me. So I scraped together every dollar I didn't have and 500 dollars later (bike plus accessories) I left happy as can be, and rode the heck out of it.

If it isn't obvious, though, it was a tad too small for me. However! It was actually a revelation as the Raleigh was really small. I rode the wheels off it for a year, and then I got this:

From the side by bdinger, on Flickr

That bike I got in 2007, and I had a serious love/hate relationship with. I loved it when it worked as it was brilliantly fast and would just eat up the miles due to the speed. I hate it because it, well, broke a lot. Mainly the wheel, the rear once, which was a constant point of stress for me. Hindsight being 20/20 when Trek refunded my stock wheel that wouldn't stop breaking I should have insisted that the new one was a 36 spoke. I didn't, and as such paid the penalty. I rode several thousand miles on that bike that year, but in the end couldn't trust it after late in the year the frame cracked and although covered under warranty. I had enough.

Now I have this:

My Long Haul Trucker! by bdinger, on Flickr

And I really love that. Even though I have about double the cost of my first two bikes combined into it, I still love it.
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Old 04-06-12, 01:46 PM   #9
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I've had bikes since I was a kid ... so a real "first" bike story I really don't have.

However ... when I was in junior high, my dad started riding distance rides, and I was interested. So I saved money from my paper route to buy my first "road" bike.

It was red, it was a Peugeot, and I was in love.

I took time off during high school and college, when football came calling and helped pay my educational bill, and I slowly returned to the bike, first a Schwinn High Sierra Mountain Bike, in black chrome, and various others over the years.

But man ... that red Peugeot ... I SO wish I still had it.
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Old 04-06-12, 02:34 PM   #10
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Like ill.clyde, I've had bikes my whole life.

first ever bike
I learned to ride on a department store bike with a banana seat and training wheels. One day when I was almost 5, went out to the garage, found a wrench and took the training wheels off. I fell down a bunch until I managed to ride all the way to the dead-end of the block and back. I got congratulated for my accomplishment and punished for not asking if I could use Dad's tools.

first BMX bike
I remember getting a Murray X-24 BMX bike for Christmas one year (10 or 11 years old). It was awesome with blue anodized rims and faceplate on the gooseneck stem, rad top tube/stem/handlebar pads, caliper brakes instead of coaster brake. Eventually I crashed it during a race and ended up with a few dozen stitches.

first bike I paid for with my own money
Shortly thereafter, I bought a Redline RL-20a (I've mistakenly listed it as a different model previously) freestyle bike.
I also obtained a FreeSpirit 10spd at roughly the same time. Eventually I got more into road riding with my dad than ramp riding. When I was tall enough, I got his hand-me-down Fuji something-or-other.

first MTB
I got into MTB riding for a bit, and my first one was in 7th grade when I got a Schwinn High Plains. It was yellow and green (IIRC) and I rode the hell out of it until I was in college; but long before then I had purchased a 1991 Specialized Stumpjumper. Eventually I gave the Schwinn to a friend and brought the Stumpie to college.

(backtracking a bit) Eventually, through HS cross-country, I got fast enough and got into triathlon. I saved my pennies and bought a tri-bike. A 1991 Trek 2100 carbon main-tubes on aluminium stays/fork, Aerospoke wheels, Profile aerobars and speed-shifters. It was boss and I won a bunch of age-division trophies on it until I was 19. College pretty much killed my racing career, but I kept riding.

I rode on and off but nothing serious from 1996 until 2005. I had my 2100 and my Stumpie until the 2100 got stolen out of my basement in 2002. I'm still pretty sore about it.
The Stumpie became my only ride and I turned it into a commuter when I moved to Washington and started riding seriously again. As my mileage picked up to the 50+ in a single ride range, I decided to get a road bike. I was taken with the idea of long distance and randonneuring, so I wanted a bike that could fit wide tires, fenders, had upright positioning possibility and that could take the abuse of a 245 pound rider for 200 miles in a day. I got fitted at my LBS and introduced to 5 bikes that would fit me well for what I wanted to do; 3 in my price range; and I opted for the 2008 Cross-Check complete (with a few modifications from stock for my fit and preference).

I still have it, and it's my daily commuter and typical selection for distance riding.

Since then, I have acquired a 1988 Trek 400 and a 1987 Schwinn Highlands, both refurb'd dumpster rescues. I have purchased, built, and summarily destroyed a 2010 Vassago Fisticuff (only raced 1 season). It has been replaced with a 2011 Redline Conquest Pro built up using most of the salvaged parts from the wrecked Vassago.
"I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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Old 04-06-12, 03:00 PM   #11
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I've been cycling almost my whole life. I started young enough that I can't remember my first bike. I remember riding with training wheels, and the anxiety that came when they were taken off and I was about to try that for the first time ... but I don't remember the bike itself. Or the next one, or the one after that. In fact, I went by a local bike shop the other day and remembered that I had bought a bike from them about 7 years ago; I had forgotten that one, too. It's not that they were lousy bikes or anything, it's just ... so many bikes!

Originally Posted by Askel View Post
For whatever reason, the internet seems positively abuzz with "What bike should I buy?!"threads.
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