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For the 50+ 'newbie' rider

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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

For the 50+ 'newbie' rider

Old 03-02-20, 08:10 AM
  #201  
Redrovermiami
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Great post!

Thanks for putting time and effort into this!
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Old 06-27-20, 11:52 PM
  #202  
MrPeabody
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Just joined the forums and found this. I'll be 51 very soon and just getting back into it after almost 30 years out. This thread is really helpful.
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Old 07-01-20, 01:13 PM
  #203  
JeffreyS
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Thanks for taking the time to do this. All very helpful--even though I'm only 48!
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Old 07-03-20, 01:47 PM
  #204  
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'Swing your leg over

Originally Posted by Catweazle View Post
Riding

Are you still with us? Good, because if you’ve persevered this far you now have a bike! (Even if that purchase has only really been made in your head, yet!)

It’s time to hop on the thing and go for a ride, and that can be a daunting challenge for those of us who haven’t been on a bicycle for a long time. Especially for those of us who, like me, hadn’t really thought about riding a bike in any ‘technical’ sense at all, ever. So we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about the ‘basics’ of riding, and the most basic thing of all is starting and stopping.


Taking off.

Swing your leg over that bike and stand with your legs astride the top bar, your bum forward of the saddle, and your hands on the handlebar. That’s your “at rest” position. It’s how you stand and hold the bike upright before you take off, and it’s how you stand and hold the bike up straight when you come to a stop. And it’s the position from which you can take off with best control of your bike. You do that in the following way. Don’t be put off by the detailed description of it, please. It all happens in one continuous, smooth action, so practice until it becomes easy.

Decide which leg you want to take off with. That’ll usually be your ‘strongest’ leg, but it doesn’t really make much difference which. Spin the pedals around until the pedal on that side is at the ’10 o’clock’ position. (Up and a wee bit forwards, in other words.)

Get your upper body a bit forward so you can support your weight on your hands, and push down on that pedal.
As the bike starts to move forward, bring your body up and back to sit on the saddle, and allow your upper body to come back and up a bit into a comfortable riding position.

Sounds technical, but it’s not really. That ‘weight over the handlebars’ when you take off gives you better control of the steering, and allows you to take off smooth and straight. It eliminates the ‘wobbles’ once you get the hang of it.

Stopping

Pulling up to a halt is the reverse of the above, basically. Weight a bit forward again, bum forward and off the saddle, leg down to the ground to support you and then stand astride the top bar.

But what about the balancing?

There is one (and only one) exception to the principles outlined above about saddle height and starting/stopping. That’s the person who has genuinely never ridden a two-wheeled vehicle before, and who doesn’t yet have the concept of sitting on one when it is moving and being able to stay upright!

Learning to balance a bike is the same for older folk as it is for little kids, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘training wheels’. Training wheels suck! Learning to balance a bicycle is where that “you need to be able to put both feet on the ground” comes into play.

Drop the saddle down so you can put both feet on the ground. Point the bike downhill, sit on it, kick off and then lift your feet up off the ground. That’s how you learn to ‘balance’ a bike. There’s no other way. You keep doing that until you stop falling off, it’s as simple as that. When you’ve learnt how to roll downhill sitting on the thing, and turn the handlebars to steer it, you’re ready to put that saddle back up to where it should be and then learn to take off and ride correctly.

By the way. If you’ve chosen a nice,gentle, soft grassy slope to practise on (as most of us would do) don’t be too nervous about making the move to a harder sealed surface. Keeping a bike upright on grass is harder than keeping it upright on a hard sealed surface, so if you’re happy on the grass you’ll be right as rain on the pavement.
I'm 62, 5'9", and I wanted to upgrade from my 20+ year old heavy 6 speed beach cruiser. I really wanted a 'comfort' bike with a step through or ladies' bike. When I went to test ride some models the sales person put me on hybrid fitness bikes and told me the proper way to get on a bike with a cross bar is to tip it at about 45 degrees and put your leg through, rather than hoist it over the seat. Brilliant!
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Old 07-04-20, 07:18 PM
  #205  
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First 'big' ride!

Well, I bit the bullet and laid down a thousand dollars for a bicycle which is about 3 times as much as I imagined I'd be paying! Since all team sports have been wiped out by the pandemic, bikes are in short supply, (as well as SUPs, kayaks, outrigger canoes etc) - epecially size large bikes. I ended up with a men's Specialized Crosstrail and I LOVE it! I thought I was going to have to return it because my 'nether regions' were very sore! I went online and researched, got my spirit level out and made the (men's) seat level. Wow! What a difference. Rode 23.94 kms today - My first 'big' ride. btw I'm 62 female dragon boat paddler missing the water and my team!
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Old 07-23-20, 01:43 PM
  #206  
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Originally Posted by smakcanada View Post
Well, I bit the bullet and laid down a thousand dollars for a bicycle which is about 3 times as much as I imagined I'd be paying!
Welcome. Adults getting in to this sport frequently are used to seeing Target and Walmart bikes for low prices, and don't recognize the difference in quality.
Once you've been around a while you learn to appreciate why real bikes cost more than toys. You got a very nice, entry level bike.

Ever seen a kayak in Target? Kayaks look like they go for $800-$1200 and they don't even have any moving parts.
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Old 09-23-20, 03:58 AM
  #207  
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My dad wants to start cycling with me. It's been ages since he has ridden a bike. What would you recommend for a 50+ "beginner"?
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Old 09-27-20, 08:13 PM
  #208  
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Originally Posted by Catweazle View Post
Where to buy the bike?

This section is included for one simple reason. We’d like to see you buy that bike from a local bike shop (LBS) rather than succumbing to the desire to go grab a cheapie from WallyMart or somesuch chainstore!
It’s often assumed that older folk have more disposable income than younger folk, but of course that’s not always the case. You might be a bit strapped for cash, and if so that $89 ‘special might look appealing up against the bike shop bikes which often start at around $350 or thereabouts. Please, please, PLEASE don’t get lured to the dark side. We like you too much!

Chain store bikes are cheap because they are made from low quality materials and components, and because they are mass market items which are assembled by people who aren’t necessarily trained for the task or do it well. Rather than being an easy and cheap entry to cycling for folk, they’re more often than not a discouragement instead, because they all too often end up unusable, abandoned and left to rust away. A couple of anecdotes, to illustrate:

A friend of mine recently succumbed to the temptation of a tight household budget and a Wally World ‘special’ and grabbed a couple of $89 ‘mountain bikes’ so she and her hubby could go riding along nearby rail trails with her young sons. The bikes looked attractive, and looked nice and solid, but by the time she returned from her first shortish ride the rear wheel was buckled so badly that the bike was effectively unridable. Those wheels were built from shoddy materials, and they hadn’t been tensioned adequately anyway! (In comparison, my ‘entry level’ $400 hybrid has now done thousands of kilometres on and off road, and there’s less than half a millimetre of lateral ‘buckle’ in either wheel!)

Perhaps an even more alarming anecdote is one posted at BikeForums recently. A recent topic elsewhere on the board was pondering whether or not WalMart could be sued for selling shoddy product. The wife of the fellow who posted the topic had purchased a bike from WalMart, and all had appeared well with it while she was getting used to riding. Until, a week or thereabouts later, she went down a hill for the first time on it! The brakes failed to pull her up! From the sound of things, they didn’t fail because the cables had stretched. Instead, they’d failed because the brake cables hadn’t even been securely tightened, and had pulled through the first time any real pressure was applied to them!


Staff at your local bike shop should be friendly and helpful, and concerned enough to show interest in ensuring you get a bike which suits what you want to do, rather than trying to convince you to buy something you don’t want. If you encounter shop staff who seem inclined to treat you as frail and incapable just because you’re an older customer, go find a better shop! Your bike shop staff should also be attending to ensuring that bike is adjusted for your body size before you walk out of the shop with it. We call that the ‘fit’ of the bike, and it’s explained a bit more below.
Also check for after sales support. Any bike shop worth its salt should be encouraging you to bring the bike back to them after a shortish period of time or a minimum number of miles ridden, so they can attend to adjusting the parts which have settled into place and the brake/gear cables which will have inevitably stretched a bit during that initial use. They should also be offering a period of free servicing to follow that up. (I got 12 months of free service with my own entry-level bike!)

If even an entry level ‘bike shop’ bike is out of reach for you, investigate purchasing a decent secondhand brand name bike. You’ll have to do a bit more homework/research, so you’re aware of size and fit matters, but a good secondhand bike is far preferably to a WallyWorld bike!
I don't think "Walmart," bikes are bad. You get what you pay for, an affordable bike that is ready to ride, after doing a proper safety check and making sure everything is properly adjusted. "Kev Central," is a YT'er that works with box store bikes, and shows that they are functional out of the gate, after proper adjustments. I would caution people...especially older people to do some research before buying a box store bike. There is a plethora of resources online, that will help you figure out, what is the best bike, sizing, and other related topics. Read the reviews, whether or not you buy a bike from Wally world, Target, or Amazon. Know what you're getting into before you pull the trigger. Take it to a bike shop and have them safety check it, and don't mind the sneers from the LBS employees. You're paying them for a service and they should grateful for it. If they treat you right, why not come back and purchase a better bike from them if and when the time comes?
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Old 10-08-20, 03:05 AM
  #209  
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My mom want to join my in my cycling routine. Las time she had a bike was in her teenage years, which was more than 40 years ago, she is 61 now. What I'm worrying about she has knee pains sometimes, doctor's say it's nothing terrible but I'm not sure how safe would it be for her knees to cycle after such a huge gap. Maybe she would need some knee support or something.
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Old 10-11-20, 07:54 PM
  #210  
grizzly907la
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Originally Posted by RggBee View Post
My mom want to join my in my cycling routine. Las time she had a bike was in her teenage years, which was more than 40 years ago, she is 61 now. What I'm worrying about she has knee pains sometimes, doctor's say it's nothing terrible but I'm not sure how safe would it be for her knees to cycle after such a huge gap. Maybe she would need some knee support or something.
I have bad knees. They sound like the Rice Krispies (snap, crackle and pop,) Trio when I walk up a flight of stairs. Chalk it up to my stint in the Navy. I also have a bad ankle/foot from a running accident. Bike riding is low impact for the knees. I don't know her particulars but I would suggest glucosamine/condroidin supplement. A neoprene knee support can work wonders. I would urge losing weight if she's overweight (I don't know if she is or not, but throwing it in there.) Losing 15-20 lbs can make a huge difference...trust me, I know, because I'm a Clydesdale. She could also do some light stretching as well. I would take it easy with her, and let build herself up.

Kudo's to your mother, for wanting to start riding again. It's never too late to start!
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Old 10-12-20, 07:12 AM
  #211  
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Originally Posted by grizzly907la View Post
I have bad knees. They sound like the Rice Krispies (snap, crackle and pop,) Trio when I walk up a flight of stairs. Chalk it up to my stint in the Navy. I also have a bad ankle/foot from a running accident. Bike riding is low impact for the knees. I don't know her particulars but I would suggest glucosamine/condroidin supplement. A neoprene knee support can work wonders. I would urge losing weight if she's overweight (I don't know if she is or not, but throwing it in there.) Losing 15-20 lbs can make a huge difference...trust me, I know, because I'm a Clydesdale. She could also do some light stretching as well. I would take it easy with her, and let build herself up.

Kudo's to your mother, for wanting to start riding again. It's never too late to start!
Thank you for sharing your experience and for kind words.
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