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Beginner questions

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Old 06-18-07, 07:04 AM
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solveg
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Beginner questions

1) OK, I've been reading up on how you're supposed to ride a bike in good form. One of the things I read was to NEVER use just your front brake. I rarely* use my rear brake... only when I want slow my speed down a hill, or I have to brake fast. Is this accurate?

2) One site said to scrape your pedal at 3:00 and you'll get much more power. I assume this is 3:00 on the way down? I tried it and decided it was only valid with clips on. Right?

3) Is a woodland trail composed of little sticks (not bark) safe for my spokes and tires?

4) One site said, when choosing a new bike, the rule of "spend as many dollars as you ride in a year" seemed to make good sense. I liked that one. What do you think?

5) I never quite got a good answer on the evaporation of sweat thing. Cotton is bad in cold weather. I knew that ('cause I'm from Minnesota), but after reading everything, am I correct in my reasoning that although it may still cause chafing, a sweaty cotton tank top is really a very nice thing if you need* to keep your body temperature down?
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Old 06-18-07, 07:15 AM
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1. Braking technique can be safe with just the front brake if you understand that the danger is in applying them too hard and ending up flipped up and over the front handlebars. When you must apply the front brakes hard, shift as much of your weight back behind the saddle as possible.

2. The technique you describe is one that I've most frequently heard discussed as using the same motion that you would use to scrape mud off the bottom of your shoe, but toward the bottom of the stroke. Perhaps the site you read starts the motion at the three o'clock position. I'd probably start it at closer to the five o'clock position. The power increase will likely not be that substantial until you get a good spinning technique in place.

3. What kind of wheels and tires are you using? Some wheels are much stronger than others? How big are the "sticks"?

4. The issue of price is a highly personal one. I don't like spending much money, but like riding really good stuff. Hence, I go to yard sales, barter, trash pick at times, almost anything to get the best stuff I can. I don't think it's a bad idea to keep your investments modest until you're sure you really want to keep riding.

5. Not necessarily. Remember that your body temperature goes down due to evaopration. Cotton tends to hold mositure making evaporation harder than with some of the newer synthetic fabrics that do an excellent job of helping evaporation.

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Old 06-18-07, 07:18 AM
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+1. Good answers
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Old 06-18-07, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by solveg
1) OK, I've been reading up on how you're supposed to ride a bike in good form. One of the things I read was to NEVER use just your front brake. I rarely* use my rear brake... only when I want slow my speed down a hill, or I have to brake fast. Is this accurate?
Here's an article from Sheldon Brown's site on braking that might answer a few of your questions.

I seldom use my rear brakes to stop unless it's a panic stop and I'll use anything I can find at that time Even for emergency stops if you slide back on the seat it will help prevent going over the handlebars. Practice this a few times and it just becomes automatic when you're making a sudden stop.


http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html
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Old 06-18-07, 08:06 AM
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cotton holds onto moisture. it gets saturated. it's lousy hot or cold.
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Old 06-18-07, 10:40 AM
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Good answers.

I use my rear brake pretty infrequently.

The thing about scraping your feet is really just to emphasize that most beginners only "mash" - this is, they just push down hard as each foot is in the "9 o'clock" position. You'll get more power if you try to pedal evenly in "big circles". The mud thing is just one way to say this.

I don't necessarily subscribe to the idea on how much to spend, but it's actually not a bad approach based on my experiences. The other thing to realize is that if a more expensive bike inspires you to ride more miles, that's a good thing. If you don't like you bike or it doesn't fit you well, you'll be riding zero miles!

Remember that one of the interesting things about cycling is that you're creating your own breeze by moving. So on a hot day, it's like having a fan blow on you while you sweat, which is one reason you need to drink plenty of water - you won't realize that you're getting dehydrated. This works against you when it's cold - it's like having a "wind chill factor" when you go screaming down a hill and it's 40F. Experiment and see what works for you.
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Old 06-18-07, 10:54 AM
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The scraping mud thing assumes you have clipless pedals or clips and straps. There's a lot of hype about the "correct" way to pedal, but everyone's pedal stroke is an individual thing they develop over time. Your technique doesn't have to be the same as mine.

We generate most of our power on the downstroke, a little going over the top and through the bottom, and next to none on the upstroke. In fact, conceivably your leg could be dead weight on the upstroke, without slowing you down. After all, you have to spend energy to lift the leg and it may not matter whether it lifts itself or is pushed up by the other leg coming down. See "four-stroke internal combustion engine" for an example of this latter principle.

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Old 06-18-07, 12:38 PM
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Thanks for the answers everyone. They should really have a beginner's forum for these types of questions.

Originally Posted by BSLeVan
3. What kind of wheels and tires are you using? Some wheels are much stronger than others? How big are the "sticks"?
Can't remember my rims, but my tires are big apples, and the rims are pretty sturdy with lots of spokes. The sticks are a wide variety of size, most seem to be 2-4 inches, and maybe .5 inch diameter. That's from memory, I'll take a photo today. It's a walking path, wide, rarely used- it's not marked specifically as any* specific usage. It's the only way I can get to the grocery store without riding on a really busy road. (Lakes on each end). It's actually a nature preserve.

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Old 06-18-07, 12:45 PM
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i don't understand people who are scared of there front brake, if you brake the right way which isn't that hard to figure out you won't flip, its all about shifting your weight. when you grab the front brake shift your weight back a bit, im not sure what bike you are riding, i rarely use my rear brake, unless i am just slowing down a bit, or want to lock the rear. The faster you are going the farther back you want to be. i guess this is geared a bit more towards mountain biking, but you are still on two wheels using two brakes.
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Old 06-18-07, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by solveg
Thanks for the answers everyone. They should really have a beginner's forum for these types of questions.


Can't remember my rims, but my tires are big apples, and the rims are pretty sturdy with lots of spokes. The sticks are a wide variety of size, most seem to be 2-4 inches, and maybe .5 inch diameter. That's from memory, I'll take a photo today. It's an walking path, wide, rarely used- it's not marked specifically as any* specific usage. It's the only way I can get to the grocery store without riding on a really busy road. (Lakes on each end). It's actually a nature preserve.
you might not be allowed to ride on it since it is a nature preserve, you might want to check that out.
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Old 06-18-07, 01:05 PM
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I agree... I don't* use my rear brake hardly, and I found it hard to believe that I was "supposed" to, but it mentioned it on the Twin Cities Bicycling Club web page, and they're a pretty big club.

There's nothing posted about usage at the entrance point of the nature preserve. I called them, and the guy said, "Yeah, I think it's OK, but the person who can give you a final aswer is out of the office now"... Haven't heard back yet, but I'm not worried. Noone ever uses this place. I've been walking the dogs there for years.
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Old 06-18-07, 01:48 PM
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Rear brakes are your friends. Skidding on pavement can also be lots of fun, although it wears out the tire fast.

Skidding on a dirt trail is considered a mortal sin and can lead to confiscation of your bike by angry mountain bikers
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Old 06-18-07, 02:27 PM
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The front brake does the vast majority of the stopping force, but I almost always use the rear brake lightly to supplement the front for maximum control.
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Old 06-18-07, 02:42 PM
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about 80% of breaking is from the front, forgot to mention this, this figure is actually more like 75-85% but it depends on the situation. For example if you are breaking and there is only one tire on the ground you are getting 100% of your breaking power from the only tire that is actually on the ground.
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Old 06-18-07, 04:02 PM
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However, when riding on snow and ice, use only the rear brake. Just think of it as the winter brake.

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Old 06-18-07, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by solveg
Thanks for the answers everyone. They should really have a beginner's forum for these types of questions.


Can't remember my rims, but my tires are big apples, and the rims are pretty sturdy with lots of spokes. The sticks are a wide variety of size, most seem to be 2-4 inches, and maybe .5 inch diameter. That's from memory, I'll take a photo today. It's a walking path, wide, rarely used- it's not marked specifically as any* specific usage. It's the only way I can get to the grocery store without riding on a really busy road. (Lakes on each end). It's actually a nature preserve.

You'll most likely be OK with the sticks. The only real problem I could see if one is long enough to get wedged between spokes and fork blades or chain/seat stays. If the stick were sturdy enough to break spokes in such a situation, you might have some problems.
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Old 06-18-07, 04:07 PM
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Proper braking is very important and you should practice sudden stops in a controlled environment. I am a roadie and use the 60/40 rule. I use 60 percent of the front brake and 40 percent of the rear brake most of the time. The front brake is the stopping power source. You don’t want to end up ahead of the bike on a panic stop. Just performing a slow gliding stop and hitting the front brake hard at the end of the stop you can lift your rear wheel a couple of inches off the ground. From time to time I still inadvertently perform this feat.

Proper pedaling is important but as a beginner I would focus on my saddle height and saddle position first (fit). Get a pair of good riding shoes. (I wouldn’t dare tell you to get clip-ons. That is another thread.)

Bicycling clothes, they make them for a reason. It is all about layers, fit and function. Getting bicycling clothes as gifts is great but a gift certificate for bicycle clothes is even better.

Where you buy your bike or shoes is where you should be getting fitted. It should be included in your purchase. Like some have said before me, perhaps you shouldn’t spend too much until you have decided you are going to really do this. I did this and it only cost me two bikes instead of one. You get my drift.
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Old 06-18-07, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkAJ
Like some have said before me, perhaps you shouldn’t spend too much until you have decided you are going to really do this.
Honey, that ship has long* since sailed.

I'm actually not a total rookie (believe it or not!). I used to commute 23 miles to my internship and about 10 to school, sometimes in the same day. But that was in my heyday, and it's been a long time since then. Problem is, I'm self-taught, so there's things I truly am "beginning" with.
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