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New Cyclist with some questions

Old 11-01-14, 06:16 PM
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FitnessGuy
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New Cyclist with some questions

Hello all. So after a failed weight loss attempt earlier this year, I decided to try again. I bought a bicycle for the first time since I was a kid, however it is very cheap and I'm almost ashamed to post the model here, because when I had questions about the bike on Y! Answers, the community was pretty condescending about it. It's not that I'm just a cheapskate, I'm just on a budget right now and there's no dedicated bike shops anywhere near me. Here's the bike I'm currently riding, if anybody would like to chime in on if I bought a decent enough low quality bike.

26" Glendale Men's Bike - Walmart.com

Right now, I don't have any accessories for it. I also have no idea about fixing bikes should something go wrong with it. I actually just now figured out the gears for it, I think. All my bikes have been old school with nothing but handlebars and pedal brakes, so I was fairly excited for the handlebar breaks and the gear shifter. It only has one dialing knob that's on the right handlebar. It goes from 1 - 7. From my understanding, low gears like 1 are for climbing hills and high gears like 7 are for going down hills, however if I am incorrect, please do tell me. I had bought another bike that came with another knob on the left handlebar, but sadly it was broken upon purchase and I returned it and exchange it for this one.

I bought this purely for exercise, as I am overweight. I don't have a big belly or any fleshy body parts that get in the way, but I do weigh alot for my height. 260 or 270. I'm 5'9. Honestly, I walk and jog all the time, or I used to, I broke my arm earlier this year and even though I'd almost gone down to 200, that arm really messed me up and I gained back the weight and them some. I do feel very fit for my weight. But this bike has been kicking my butt since I got it yesterday. I live in a residential neighborhood with streets that are convenient for bike rides. I rode around 3 blocks, I'd say for about 1/8th of a mile and went on home because kids were out trick or treating. My legs were a little tired, but they felt better as soon as I got off the bike. However, I had severe problems with my pelvic area, the buttocks, inner thighs, and crotch area. I do have quite a big bottom, and the seat is narrow and elongated. It's okay just sitting on it, but actually pedaling puts a lot of pressure on my crotch. I tried again today, going the same 1/8th of a mile, but I had to break every 20 seconds, and I had to walk my bike up the hill, even pedaling in 1st gear wore me out. I have some nasty pain on my inner thighs and crotch from just that little bit.

I don't have good biking gear yet. I have a helmet, gloves, athletic shirt, and just a regular pair of basketball shorts. I'm told bicycling shorts come with padded protection to help my crotch areas, but I'll have to order them online in two weeks, when I get my next paycheck.

I would like to take this bike on extremely long commutes, for about 3-6 hours at a time. But right now, with these 5 and 10 minute rides wearing me out, this seems like a nightmare. Should I jog and lose a little bit of weight first, or do I just keep cycling?

Also, if you have any tips about cycling techniques, gear, anything you think a brand new cyclist like myself would need or want to know, feel free.
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Old 11-01-14, 07:26 PM
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It's really hard to tell much about the Glendale. It's a 7-speed, and based on the picture I'd guess that it's a megarange cassette. Beyond that, it's impossible to tell as there's no specs given. It should work fine for short trips, though. At this point you should consider getting a helmet and maybe not much more. You really don't need padded shorts or gloves or clipless pedals at this point; in fact if you think you have to put on special garb to ride, you may not do it as much.

For weight loss, cycling will help but walking is probably better. Why don't you try mixing it up and alternating walking and riding days. Do one or the other for at least 20 minutes, and when you get to the point where that's easy then gradually extend the time to an hour. I've found that maintaining an easy pace keeps me from depleting my blood sugar and leaving me ravenous; so in the context of weight loss, it's better to go easy and burn fewer calories than to go hard, burn more, but eat them back on later.
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Old 11-01-14, 07:54 PM
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Hey, it's a start. Best not to invest too much until you see if cycling works for you and is enjoyable. To that end, the fact that you are experiencing pain so quickly might mean the bike is not properly adjusted to fit you. There is lots of info online, but you should make sure the seat is at the proper height. Basic starting point, sit on the seat with someone holding the bike for you. Put your heel on the pedals and rotate. When the pedal is at the bottom of the rotation, your leg should be completely straight while keeping your hips/pelvis level on the seat. Note, using your heel for setting the seat height. When you ride, put the ball of your foot over the middle of the pedal.

Next, you should be able to adjust the seat angle, put a level on it and start with it dead level. Try riding after making these adjustments. As you ride more you may want to experiment with these settings, but make small incremental changes to see the effect. Good luck!
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Old 11-01-14, 09:09 PM
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Try adjusting the seat as jimincalif suggested. If it still HURTS to ride an eighth of a mile, something is seriously wrong with that saddle (at least for you... the notion of "one size fits all" really doesn't work for bicycle saddles). A good saddle needs to support your sit bones and not put pressure on your soft tissue. It's normal to feel some "pain in the butt" as a beginning rider, but not after 5-10 minutes of riding.

You might also want to cross-post on the Clydesdales & Athenas forum; there are lots of folks there with great tips for heavy riders. They can also help you get your bike dialed in properly.

Yeah, you'll want a better bike eventually, but for now the goal is to get you rolling without so much pain!
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Old 11-01-14, 09:36 PM
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Thanks for the tips, everybody. I feel so much more welcome here than at the Answers community. I'll try and modify the saddle or change it out altogether.
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Old 11-01-14, 10:24 PM
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I had single speed bikes until I was 13 when I got a 10-speed. After not biking for years, and wanting to get fit, I began swimming and biking. I bought the 1987 equivalent of what you bought, except I had 6 gears. The weight of the bike was the same as yours. I rode that bike for 5 years before adding front gears when I moved from flat Iowa to hilly Colorado. I wish I had this website when I was where you are now. There is a great wealth of knowledge and great moderators who prevent flame wars and many many contributors who keep the atmosphere positive, welcoming and supportive. Walmart has many inexpensive seats from narrow to wide. On my road bike I have a narrower seat. On my commuter which is more like yours, I recently switched to a wider saddle with a gel layer and springs. My commuters have always had seats with springs. And despite popular opinion which seems to favor hard seats, I have a gel seat slipcover on my commuter and TWO gel seat covers on my roadie. I used to have numbness and discomfort before the gel covers, but none now; not even the chafing some predicted. Don't get discouraged, do experiment. Ignore the haters and listen to the helpful. go, Go, GO! We're here for you.
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Old 11-02-14, 06:50 AM
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Welcome. I was walking too until it just got too painful. With the proper fit on the bike, you can ride a lot longer than you can walk.
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Old 11-02-14, 07:12 AM
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Just ride your bike.
Ride every day...don't even think about such a long commute if such a short distance gives you pain...while you put a lot of words in your post you don't say much of value when talking about how little you ride. Pain can come from a wide variety of areas starting with your position on the bike...does it fit you and has it been adjusted for your height, etc. If the saddle causes such pain because of your size get a wider saddle...no one sees the saddle when you are sitting on it and the average person thinks we are an odd bunch anyway for sitting on a broom stick handle so who cares...get a saddle that is comfortable.

You've bought a bike that costs less than the average saddle, etc. Hell I've spent more on a pair of tires that you did for the bike.
The problem is you have asked about this bike on a forum where the above is the norm...like going on a pen forum and asking what the members think of the "Bic" you just bought for fifteen cents when the average member sports a pen that costs well over $100.00...and that is an inexpensive pen...
This forum is generally for people that are passionate about their bikes, etc. and lean towards higher quality, more costly stuff.
I'd take that bike in a heart beat and ride it back and forth to work every day...my commute is a 1/4 mile each way and many of us ride very basic...ie cheap...bikes because we leave them outside and unattended. My favorite road bike doesn't even get ridden in the rain...that is what my "rain bike" is for and that bike retailed for $800.00.

Don't ride hilly areas at this point...stick to flatter terrain until you get more miles in your legs..learn to "spin"...you probably should be pushing 70rpms to start...that is very low to us but you have to start "learning" and this is a very important area to begin with. Use whatever gear is needed for this spin and just focus on it.
Change your life style...Write down everything and how much you eat, when you eat etc and evaluate...
If you are serious about becoming more healthy and fit it is a life style change FOREVER, not a diet then back again riding the weight gain/loss roller coaster.

Don't worry about the bike or what others might think...the average person could not tell the difference between a Dogma and a Wally World special. If it works properly it does its' job and you should do yours.

Last edited by Kai Winters; 11-02-14 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 11-02-14, 08:07 AM
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Any bike that gets you on it is a gem! Your heart and lungs will thank you later.................
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Old 11-02-14, 09:41 AM
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You're doing it right!

So you bought a cheap bike and you're riding it. That's great! Even the fact that it's a cheap bike is good because it means that you aren't using the excuse that you have to wait to ride until you can afford a better bike.

For now, just ride where ever you want and however you want. As you do so, keep a mental list of the things about your bike that you like and the things that you hate. That way if, at some point, if you feel the urge to upgrade, you'll have a better idea of what to look for.

Real biking shorts have some kind of padding. Expensive ones are better than cheap ones. If you're budget challenged, cut off sweat pants are nearly as good and are a lot less expensive.
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Old 11-02-14, 11:03 AM
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In addition to setting your saddle at the correct height and angle, you might also consider lowering the handlebars. What that will tend to do is to shift your center of gravity forward so that you support more of your weight with your hands and it will position you better over the pedals for better efficiency. Sitting bolt upright as you would with the saddle and handlebars positioned as they are in your link puts pretty much all your weight onto the saddle. There is a reason why almost all long distance riders lean forward somewhat when they ride, it is more comfortable. As for your quick exhaustion, one thing to keep in mind is to start off slowly using the gears that are easiest to pedal. It takes a good 10-15 minutes to warm up, if you start off fast in a hard gear you will poop out before your body has time to adjust to the increased effort
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Old 11-02-14, 12:50 PM
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It would be a decent bike for its intended purpose.Which right in the blurb states leisurely rides on neighborhood streets. In other words, it is intended for not to far and not to fast. But, for getting back into riding it will work.
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Old 11-02-14, 04:46 PM
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Thanks to everybody above. I rode on and off all day today, and the seat hurts considerably less than it did yesterday. I also rode a little longer, but my legs get pretty tired unless it's flat, but I'll keep working at it. I really enjoy bike riding. It's certainly a lot funner than just walking or jogging around. I may ride into the city to purchase a quality bicycle from a dedicated shop around Christmas this year. Again, thanks to everybody's tips and advice.
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Old 11-02-14, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kai Winters View Post
... the average person thinks we are an odd bunch anyway for sitting on a broom stick handle
I think that too, but I've got a different perspective.

To adjust your saddle: Sit on the bike and hold yourself up against a sign post or something. Pedal backwards with your heels on the pedals. Adjust the saddle height so that your knees go mostly straight, just short of locking, without rocking your hips. Doing that will get you close, at least. It's common for a newb to adjust the saddle low, so they can sit on the saddle and flat-foot at a stop, but having the saddle that low will make you tire easily and will hurt your knees if you do it much.

Gears are so you can adjust your effort level to different terrain. Low gear is for when the going is hard, and high gear is for when the going is easy. DO NOT think that high gear is for when you want to go faster! That is the path to madness! Just use the gears so that you can try to maintain the same cadence (foot speed.) Right now it's probably all hard, so don't be ashamed to stay in the lower gears. Even your lowest gear is probably 3 or 4 time higher than walking.
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Old 11-02-14, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by FitnessGuy View Post
Thanks to everybody above. I rode on and off all day today, and the seat hurts considerably less than it did yesterday. I also rode a little longer, but my legs get pretty tired unless it's flat, but I'll keep working at it.
OK, this is good. Your legs will get tired, that's to be expected. You're pushing them, which will build your strength, but you will need to rest them too. Pay attention to your knees so you don't hurt them - seat height is crucial for this and use the lower gears if necessary to keep your cadence up - at least in the mid 70s rpm range to start, maybe faster later on. Also do calf and hamstring stretches. You should see progress fairly soon. I got back into riding about 13 months ago after 30+ years off. First 5 mile ride wiped me out. Worked up to my first metric century in March, full century this September. If you have a smartphone you might want to download an app like Strava or MapMyRide. These will help you see your progress and stay motivated.
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Old 11-02-14, 06:55 PM
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Walmart always has a lot of saddles. You may be able to find a better one. It should be maybe an inch wider than your sit bones at least.
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Old 11-02-14, 10:03 PM
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You'll need a strong core to keep you up for the longer rides. Find a shop with an ass-o-meter to see how wide your sit bones are...make sure to eat plenty before a ride and take some electrolytes with your water.
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