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Brand New to Biking --- Advice Please

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Brand New to Biking --- Advice Please

Old 09-17-07, 02:52 PM
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snohooper
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Brand New to Biking --- Advice Please

I recently decided to get my foot in the door to bicycling and went to go buy a bike yesterday. I had already made my mind up and decided I didn't want to overspend on a bike if I didn't keep it up, so I wanted to get a hybrid bike. The salesperson convinced me to get a Shwinn Voyageur GSD and I got it for a pretty good price.

I rode the bike home about 3 miles and I was ready to pass out. It was the hardest workout I've had in several years. I live in San Diego, California so its pretty hilly, but I still like I'm in pretty good shape and 3 miles wouldn't wear me out. One of the reasons I purchased a bike was the hope to get to commute to work at some point. The commute is nearly 15 miles. I rode 4 miles this morning, but once again my legs felt like jelly halfway through.

I have 2 questions:
1. How long is it going to take of riding 3-4 times a week before I can get to the point that I can accomplish this commute? I feel that only being able to bike 4 miles even when I push myself to the edge means that I'm starting out lower than most.

2. I also want to make sure I purchased the right bike on the salesmen's reccomendation? Does anyone know if this bike is a good hybrid bike?

Thanks in advance for anyone's help.

----------------------------------------------------

Someone online mentioned that the Schwinn Super Sport would be a much better road bike for my situation. However, the salespeople at the store have said there is not much different between any comfort bike. I was hoping to get some more people validation's on both of these claims to see if I should exchange this bike and get a better one. I am trying to stay within the same price range, so any reccommendations including staying with the same one, the Super Sport, or a totally different one.

Thanks.
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Old 09-17-07, 03:38 PM
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1. really shouldnt take you that long. dont be afraid to use an easy gear and spin, it really is a lot easier to move faster rather than push harder.

2. can't really help with this, but you're probably just fine on it as long as its a good fit. i'm still riding my fathers bike from before i was born
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Old 09-17-07, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by snohooper View Post
1. How long is it going to take of riding 3-4 times a week before I can get to the point that I can accomplish this commute? I feel that only being able to bike 4 miles even when I push myself to the edge means that I'm starting out lower than most.
Think carefully about how you "push" yourself. Effective cycling is about being relaxed and smooth. So pick easy gears and spin your legs fast. Practice using lower and lower gears and spinning faster and faster. This will ward off the muscle-fatigue and allow you to complete longer distances.

Originally Posted by snohooper View Post
2. I also want to make sure I purchased the right bike on the salesmen's reccomendation? Does anyone know if this bike is a good hybrid bike?
It's fine for a commuter. The differences between it and other bikes are minimal. You might want to invest in some high-pressure road-slicks to minimize rolling-resistance.
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Old 09-17-07, 04:10 PM
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The second one that the person recommended seems to have a much better riding position. The Voyageur is much too upright and it seems that the Super Sport is much faster, although less plush, and has a better riding angle. Thanks for the advice on training to get to the point of commuting. All the advice has been very helpful.
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Old 09-17-07, 06:27 PM
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You'll either love cycling and realize that the Super Sport wasn't good enough for you anyway or you'll do it rarely enough that it won't matter.

As for commuting, how about taking the bus half way and riding the other half?
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Old 09-18-07, 10:03 AM
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I got the Super Sport last night and the bike feels so much tighter all the way around and the riding position is so much better.

How come we just can't be optimistic and think that I'll enjoy biking and both enjoy my Super Sport for a while? Or am I just being too naive as a novice to the biking scene? Oh well, I guess I'll find out sooner or later. I'll keep you updated if anyone cares if I ever make it to work one day.
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Old 09-19-07, 08:51 AM
  #7  
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Looks like the Schwinn Voyager has a platform pedal and the Super Sport has the clipless. The clipless pedals will help you in the spinning aspect.
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Old 09-19-07, 10:31 AM
  #8  
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In that price range, the bikes you have selected are fine. It really comes down to which is the most comfortable for you in terms of your position on the seat, the handlebars, etc. If it is not comfortable to begin with, you probably won't stick at it. If the Super Sport feels good, then trust what your body is telling you.

As your ability increases (which it will very quickly), it is very likely that you will eventually want to get a better bike. So, don't worry too much now about components, etc., just enjoy that perfect climate you have and ride.
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Old 09-20-07, 05:54 AM
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You might be in shape, but not in cycling shape. I would have trouble running a mile - but cycling 50-100 is no problem. Also walking 5 miles is no problem.

Keep at it, one day you'll suddenly realise you can get all the way to work, no problem. Drop by the commuting forum for hints and advice on route, what to take etc.
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Old 09-20-07, 06:12 AM
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Personally, I think you'll bag that commute in no time. Just build up too it and don't expect too much too fast and you'll be there before you know. The key at the start is just enjoy it. Because if that isn't there... well, no Way are you going to commute. Glad you found a starter bike that works better for you than the first.
Have fun and keep us all posted.
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Old 09-20-07, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Caspar_s View Post
You might be in shape, but not in cycling shape. I would have trouble running a mile - but cycling 50-100 is no problem. Also walking 5 miles is no problem.

Keep at it, one day you'll suddenly realise you can get all the way to work, no problem. Drop by the commuting forum for hints and advice on route, what to take etc.
Yup. Me, too. It's a whole different set of mechanisims at play. Your commute isn't very far, and if your legs are the only thing that's bothering you, and it's just fatigue, then you're doing fine. Fit is the most important thing. As you ride farther, that will become more and more evident. Other things will come to the fore, and you'll fine tune as you go. Soon, you won't be so focused on your legs anymore. You'll catch up to them in no time.
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Old 09-22-07, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by snohooper View Post
I got the Super Sport last night and the bike feels so much tighter all the way around and the riding position is so much better.

How come we just can't be optimistic and think that I'll enjoy biking and both enjoy my Super Sport for a while? Or am I just being too naive as a novice to the biking scene? Oh well, I guess I'll find out sooner or later. I'll keep you updated if anyone cares if I ever make it to work one day.
The point was, either bike is good enough, get one, ride it and don't worry about it. You'll either stop riding or you'll add bikes to your collection. Bikes very specific to you, your riding style and goals.
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Old 09-23-07, 06:05 PM
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Congratulations on joining the gang!

Questions.

1. Did you buy it at a bike store or department store?
2. Did the salesperson make any adjustments to the bike for you?
What were the adjustments if any?
3. How tall/leggy are you and what size is the frame?
4.Are the tires up to the max pressure shown on the sidewall?

The reason for these questions are that there are many basic and
subtle variations of fit and preparation of the bike that can turn it
from a lumbering beast to a fair flyer. A decent bike shop would have
spent quite a few minutes or more "fitting" the bike to you and making
sure all was working without wasted energy.

The other comments here have given some ideas to help with the
adjustment to cycling. Some other common things that help.

1. Stiff soled shoes, bike specific are best but as long as the sole
is not completely flexible. Floppy shoes sap power from the pedal
stroke and can cause pain in the sole.

2. Seat should be set so that at maximum pedal stroke while seated,
your leg should come close to straight (but not straight!) If your leg
doesn't get anywhere near straight (I see this SO often) You lose a
lot of power and can cause pain in the knees.

3. Spinning, that is, high RPM on the pedals. It is something that most
people have to learn. Typically, most people will pedal at 40-60 RPM,
most recommendations are for rates of 80-90 or better. Its easier to
go up hills with a lower gear and higher RPM and makes longer distances
easier to accomplish.

Please do tell us when you succeed in your commute!
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Old 09-23-07, 06:21 PM
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I hope it is OK to tag on Snohooper's thread.
You mentioned stiff soled shoes.
I am learning to ride at the age of 45. What is a good shoe to wear with strapped pedals?
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Old 09-23-07, 06:36 PM
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We have a nice paved bike trail close to the house. I started riding my mountain bike around that trail for exercise. There are a few minor ups and downs along the way- maybe 20 feet maximum elevation change. When I first started, my legs seemed plenty strong, but it just killed me going up those slopes, and I'd have to downshift and crawl up them. After two or three months, I got to where I could ride the whole course in high gear and at a reasonable clip. So you can expect some fairly rapid improvement.

Now, just the other day, I went riding on one of the rural roads around here. There are some little rises that you wouldn't even notice in a car. But, they just wore me out on a bicycle. So obviously, I have a ways to go. Part of the problem is on my daily runs, I can keep it in high gear and put some oomph into it keep going. But if you try that on too long of a hill, you'll get your legs super tired on the first hill, and then that makes anything beyond it seem so much harder. Solution: Down shift and spin, as recommended above.

On a steep enough hill, bicycling up is not a lot more efficent than walking or jogging up. So if you can't walkor jog up a hill without getting out of breath or killing your legs, don't expect to bicycle up it any faster- the same muscles are still being asked to do about the same amount of work.
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Old 09-23-07, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Hefty View Post
I hope it is OK to tag on Snohooper's thread.
You mentioned stiff soled shoes.
I am learning to ride at the age of 45. What is a good shoe to wear with strapped pedals?
Do you mean toe clips? I didn't ride those for long, couldn't get on with them.
I would imagine something stiff in the sole and smooth around the toe,
wouldn't want anything snagging on the straps when trying to dismount.

Others here who have experience with them may have other advice.
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Old 09-24-07, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Hefty View Post
I hope it is OK to tag on Snohooper's thread.
You mentioned stiff soled shoes.
I am learning to ride at the age of 45. What is a good shoe to wear with strapped pedals?
I bought some driving shoes, Puma brand, not sure on the model name. They are far smaller than regular shoes and have a much smoother sole. Prior to that I had some cheap Wal-Mart hiking boots that would get stuck in the pedals; nearly made me wreck a couple of times. These driving shoes slide easily in and out and never stick.
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Old 10-12-07, 12:51 PM
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On Wednesday, I biked to work. It was 18 miles there and back. My legs are still pretty sore today and I have baseball each Saturday, so it looks as though I'm probably going to stick to doing it once a week until it becomes easier. It was an awesome ride down the Pacific Coast Highway. Can't wait till next week to do it again.
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Old 10-12-07, 01:10 PM
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Do shorter rides. 5 miles the first time, maybe. Then add a mile or so for the next few rides, then tack on two at a time, etc. But expect some soreness--this is why to start in small distances, so as to "break-in" your legs.

Also: make sure you have your saddle set right. Measure from center of the crank (the axis that it spins around) to the top of the saddle in the center (should be the lowest spot on the top). The distance ought to be around 0.883*your true inseam (give or take a inch maybe). The fore/aft position of the saddle ought to be set so as to get your knee centered over the pedal axle (assuming that the balls of your feet sit on the pedal axle too); this is often checked by using a plumb line off the front of the knee with the cranks horizontal. Lastly, set the saddle about level across the high spots (use a level if not sure).

[Granted, you may want to adjust things differently; go for what feels best. But the above seems to be a good starting point, and is often recommended as such.]

Also: make sure to keep spinning. I've told people in the past to pretend they are a Mack truck--and to shift often, so as to keep the rpm's up. Mashing seems like so much more work.

Lastly: stretch before and after!
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Old 10-12-07, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by RadioFlyer View Post
The point was, either bike is good enough, get one, ride it and don't worry about it. You'll either stop riding or you'll add bikes to your collection. Bikes very specific to you, your riding style and goals.
This is great advice. I bought something before I overanalyzed things to the point of not doing anything for fear of making a mistake, and then just rode the heck out of it until I started wearing out parts. I replaced the worn parts, added some accessories, adjusted the (new) seat until it was just right, lost some weight and fat while improving me endurance but I still can't figure out what I'd get to replace my bicycle if I had to do it now. The main idea is to just use what you've got, and eventually you'll know whether you got the right one or if you need to add to your collection.
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Old 10-12-07, 01:40 PM
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save yourself a lot of worry...

take 2 months of spin classes. it'll give you the air your legs need

or just ride and don't worry about it
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Old 10-12-07, 04:06 PM
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Lots of good advice here already. As others said, you might be in a good shape, but not in a good cycling shape. The muscles need to get used to cycling, and then, if you already have good cardiovascular conditioning, you'll notice pretty fast improvement. However, there are a couple of things that you should check for because they can make biking very tiring and painful:

SADDLE HEIGHT

Very important. If your saddle is too low, your legs will always be cramped. Riding even a mile like that is difficult, and not good for you. Unfortunately, a lot of beginners set the saddle way too low because they want to be able to touch the ground with their feet as they sit on the saddle. But this is IMPOSSIBLE on most bikes if your saddle is adjusted correctly. You need to adjust it so that when you're pedalling, your leg is almost straight (but not quite locked of course) at the lowest point. This way you may find that you can't touch the ground at all even if you tip the bike to one side. That's ok, just learn how to dismount by lifting your bum off the saddle and putting all of your weight on one pedal and the other on the ground, as the bike stops.

FOOT POSITION ON THE PEDAL

Also very important. You should push on the pedal with the ball of your foot (the widest part, where the toes join the rest of the foot). Lots of people tend to do it with the middle, raised portion of the foot. Not as efficient and may even lead to foot troubles.

OVERALL FIT

There lots of little adjustments one can make that sometimes make a surprisingly big difference. Are you feeling too cramped on a bike, or too stretched out? Too upright, or too bent? You can move and change things like stems and aft/fro saddle position. You can replace things like handlebars, saddles and cranks (sometimes crank length can make a difference, though we're starting to get into fairly minor things). If you have no obvious complaints about the fit, you can just adjust the above two items (your saddle height and your foot position), and ride like that. If it feels comfy - great. If not, you can ask specific questions (e.g. what do I do if my arms hurt or I need to crane my neck too much) on the bikeforums, and we'll try to help.

PEDALLING TECHNIQUE

Beginners tend to pedal way too slowly with way too much force per pedal revolution. Their cadence (how fast they rotate the pedals) tends to be around 50 revolutions per minute. Switching to easier gear and higher cadence seems unnatural to them; they're so used to high pedalling resistance that they feel they're not even working out when they aren't pushing hard. Wrong approach: it is tiring, damaging to the knees, and harder on the drivetrain. Smoother (think of moving the pedals in circles, not mashing them down) lighter pedalling at higher cadence takes some getting used to, but once you master it, it will be much easier on your knees and drivetrain AND you will go faster. Aim for about 75 rpm at first. Of course, low resistance and low cadence are okay, but you'll be moving pretty slowly.

GEARS

Of course, to be able to use a good pedalling technique you need to master the gears on your bike. You need to adjust the gears so that you're moving the pedals at a constant cadence against a constant resistance. Then your speed will change depending on the terrain, but your level of exertion will be fairly constant. For example, if you're starting on an upgrade, shift a couple of gears down in the rear. You'll go slowly, but with exactly the same cadence and pedalling resistance as before. Similarly, if you turn and crosswind becomes tailwind, shift a couple of gears up, and you'll go faster for the same amount of effort. If you feel you'll need to downshift (e.g. you see an uphill ahead), learn to time your shifting. If you do it too early, you'll lose your momentum before you actually hit the feel. If you do it too late (when you REALLY can't pedal in the high gear any longer), you might not even be able to shift, because it's best to lighten up on the pedals slighter before downshifting.

This method is good for fairly gentle winds and upgrades. With major hills you might want to employ a more aggressive approach, to deal with them quickly: shift down, of course, but not all the way down, and mash the pedals with higher resistance (you'll probably have to get off the saddle and stand on the pedals at some point). An alternate approach is to shift way down but still roughly maintain the cadence. It is usually a slower but less tiring way.

FOOD AND WATER

Hydration and nutrition are very important. Biking on full stomach is often unpleasant (some people might even feel sick). Biking when hungry is tiring and may lead to bonking (complete loss of energy). I think the rule of thumb is to eat 1-2 hours before you exercise; probably a good idea. Complex carbs (rye bread, pasta, oatmeal etc.) are good cycling foods. You can also have snacks just before or during the ride (bananas, peanut butter, energy bars, dried fruit, various nuts are good bike snackies). Also, water is a must for longer rides, even in colder weather. Even if you are not thirsty. If you are thirsty, that means you're already dehydrated. You should drink before you're thristy.

Once you have all the above things dialed in, it's just a matter of getting used to biking and getting in cycling shape. If you're doing the above right, that should happen quite quickly. Have fun cycling! :-)
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Old 10-12-07, 07:49 PM
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One more thing (sory for the information overload). Try not to cross-chain. This means, if your bike has three chain rings in front, only use the smallest with the biggest cogs (rings) in back. The chain should be relatively straight. This wil improve efficiency and reduce wear on the drivetrain.
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Old 10-13-07, 08:28 AM
  #24  
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Easy does it.

Ride often but try not to ride the exact same route twice. I'm not big on measuring distance or speed either. Farther and faster will come naturally. Don't turn this into another job, keep it fun.

I'm convinced that it's 90% mental. If you know that you have to ride 3 miles from the bike shop home, you'll find you can do it, but only with difficulty. If the bike shop was 10 miles away, you would have probably have been able to do it with about the same degree of difficulty.
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Old 10-13-07, 09:39 AM
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I have a 35-mile-RT commute. What worked for me was having my wife drive me and the bike to work. When I was able to do the ride home relatively quickly, she dropped me with the bike 2/3 of the way to work, and we decreased that to 1/3 next time. Now I ride the whole shebang in 3 hours RT. I
d like to up that to 2.5 hours if I can, but my next step is to learn the route well enough to not need the cue sheet I made up.
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