Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Learning to ride again - any advice?

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Learning to ride again - any advice?

Old 02-27-19, 01:09 PM
  #1  
Dschmale
BMX commuter gone roadie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 42

Bikes: Cheap ones

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Learning to ride again - any advice?

Hello everyone. Super new here. At 35, I've still never owned or ridden a road bike. I'm coming from BMX and mountain bikes. The only gears I've used in years were grip-shifted. I recently went all-in with drop handlebars and integrated shifters, baby tires (I kid), etc. Not jumping to clip-in pedals just yet. Still, I'm kind of frightened. I'm used to riding upright and putting my feet down from the seat. Now my stand-over is essentially my inseam. My anxieties are myriad, but I know if I'm going to commute 100 miles a week, I'm going to need a road bike. And so here I am.

Does anyone have any advice for transitioning to a road bike? A group ride seems like a great place to chat and learn but I wouldn't want to get involved in one of those for a long while. I plan to spend a lot of miles just playing with the shifters but that's about as far as my plans have gotten.

Thanks in advance for your input!
Dschmale is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 02:03 PM
  #2  
Rides4Beer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: VA
Posts: 1,437

Bikes: SuperSix Evo | Revolt

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 732 Post(s)
Liked 812 Times in 412 Posts
I had never been on a road bike in my life, and hadn't been on any bike for probably at least 15 years, until about five months ago. I was def scared of being clipped in, and used pedal adapters so I could ride with regular shoes at first, until I could get used to the shifting. But don't put it off for too long, the sooner you embrace it, the quicker you'll get used to it. You'll fall, I've done it a few times, forget to unclip coming to a stop and over you go, just part of learning. Then it'll become second nature and you'll unclip one foot as you start to slow and be ready to put a foot down if needed. Ride as much as you can in safe areas (if you have them), I spent a lot of time on MUPs before I headed out on the road. Now I prefer the road to the MUPs, less pedestrians to worry about.
Rides4Beer is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 02:41 PM
  #3  
Maelochs
Senior Member
 
Maelochs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 13,980

Bikes: 2015 Workswell 066, 2017 Workswell 093, 2014 Dawes Sheila, 1983 Cannondale 500, 1984 Raleigh Olympian, 2007 Cannondale Rize 4, 2017 Fuji Sportif 1 LE

Mentioned: 143 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6815 Post(s)
Liked 2,115 Times in 1,146 Posts
First, you need to decide which side you are on---discs or rim brakes? Then choose a chain lube.

Than and only then can you start to expound on your views of big-box bikes versus bike-shop bikes.

If you last long enough you can weigh in on 11-12-13-speed, and Shimano's pricing policies.

Those things, my friend, are what cycling is all about. I know, because I learned it from a premier cycling website.

Forget clipless pedals. I commuted for a very long time on flat pedals and consider them to be a huge safety advancement in tough traffic. You can always switch, but the benefits are negligible under the best of circumstances (and the costs are considerable.) I generally ride clipless pedals, and I have decades on flats. I am just giving you my opinion. But pedals are the last thing you need to consider.

First off ... make sure the bike fits. if you have zero stand-over clearance, the frame might be too big.

Stand-over isn't Really an issue ... I don't even consider it when choosing a frame---but with today's frame shapes and even wit the old flat-top-tube designs, you should be able to straddle the top tube generally. Your bike might be a little too big. I cannot say for sure, but before you get too attached, post some pics or ask around.

Fit is Really important on a drop-bar bike. As you learn to ride more leaned over, you will find different muscles (core particularly) get worked more. On a flat-bar bike it is easier to "cheat" and sit on the saddle hard when the legs get tired, or to put more weight on the hands. On a drop-bar bike that will hurt more---butt, neck, shoulders, and hands will suffer. Getting all the contacts and control surfaces set up just right really matters---and that will all change as you gain strength and get more comfortable on the bike. Don't be afraid to stock up on $15-$20 stems, move the saddle up or down, and/or front or back, put spacers under the bars, adjust bar angles and brifter locations, or even to get different bars.

Otherwise ... set up the bike so the bar tops (the horizontal flat parts leading out to the drops) are where you'd have your bars on a bike you are comfortable riding. You will probably want to drop them later, but you can sit just as upright on a drop-bar bike---the difference is you don't Have to. (And I have some countless thousands of miles commuting on flat- and drop bars. I am not inventing crap here---though you or others are free to disagree.)

Otherwise it is just a bike. You know how to ride it. There is not a lot of fundamental difference---balance and control, turning and braking all follow the same laws of physics.

The Most important thing, IMO, is learning to be comfortable in traffic. As it says in Dune (paraphrasing,") "Fear is the mind-killer. it is the little death which brings the greater death." I strongly suggest finding some quiet suburban streets or even (if there are any) MUPs (bike and pedestrian paths) without much traffic and just ride. Any suburban neighborhood, especially if there are linked cul-de-sacs, make great practice sites. it really won't take long ... it is as easy as riding a bike.

Humans are designed to adapt. We can do a wide range of things well enough. And all you are talking about is riding a bike with a different set of handlebars. A little practice and you will be fine.

Another thought---I used to do 15-50 miles a day on a flat-bar bike. You do not Need drop bars. I prefer drop bars because I have more options for resting my hands, and it is easier to get under the wind--but flat bars with good bar ends are also good. if you find that drops are Not for you, and if you are doing ten-mile rides twice a day, you could ride a unicycle and be fine. Don't let stereotypes limit you.

Whatever. Before long you will be posting pics from your rides and gushing about how wonderful it is to be able to ride every day.

Last edited by Maelochs; 02-27-19 at 08:10 PM.
Maelochs is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 02:42 PM
  #4  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,815

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2933 Post(s)
Liked 3,026 Times in 1,383 Posts
I would just ride it around for a couple weeks. Get used to shifting and get used to stopping. When you coast up to an intersection, stand up on the pedals, and put a foot on the ground. After you feel comfortable starting, stopping, shifting, and all that, you could look for a super mellow group ride. Or not. Plenty of people ride solo.
caloso is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 03:22 PM
  #5  
Ogsarg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Hollister, CA (not the surf town)
Posts: 1,593

Bikes: 2019 Specialized Roubaix Comp Di2, 2009 Roubaix, early 90's Giant Iguana

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 589 Post(s)
Liked 1,126 Times in 456 Posts
I got my first road bike at 59. Had been riding an old Mtn bike with trigger shifters. Did not take any time to transition to brifters didn't really even have to think about it. Did take a while to strengthen muscles to the point I could ride in the drops for longer periods but that just comes from riding. If you're mainly going to be commuting, I would agree about sticking to flat pedals. If you really want to go clipless, I'd start with that on rides where you're not likely to get run over if you fall over at a stop sign/light.

After you get the bike do some non commuting rides to get used to it. Once you feel comfortable start commuting. If you're in decent shape, it probably won't take long at all.
Ogsarg is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 04:06 PM
  #6  
surak
Senior Member
 
surak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Seattle
Posts: 1,807

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix, Canyon Inflite AL SLX, Ibis Ripley AF, Priority Continuum Onyx, Santana Vision, Kent Dual-Drive Tandem

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 802 Post(s)
Liked 655 Times in 383 Posts
I was 35 last year when I bought my first road bike. If you have mountain bike and bmx experience, then you have a more solid cycling background than I do. You know you can start off in a more upright position on a drop bar bike by adjusting headset spacers and the stem, right? Other than that, relax and get some miles in. First month (Feb 2018) I did about 20-30 miles a week, the next month I started bike commuting more confidently and did 50. By April, 100+ miles a week was my norm.
surak is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 05:39 PM
  #7  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,358

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4461 Post(s)
Liked 2,564 Times in 1,666 Posts
GCN is your friend. My friend. Everybody's friend.


Balance exercises can improve confidence. I combine indoor leg stretching and mobility exercises with balancing, especially working on the glutes. I may begin with my fingertips resting on the back of a chair but gradually try to balance without support.

And I've worked a lot on neck flexibility. For the first few years I depended on mirrors -- handlebar, helmet or eyeglass mounted -- to see behind me because I literally could not turn my head without pain and dizziness. I still use a helmet mirror but don't absolutely depend on it as much.

Other videos they demonstrate slow speed maneuvering drills such as setting up plastic cups or other objects to weave around. I wouldn't try riding along a balance beam or log, but on my hybrid with wider tires I have practiced riding along a deserted sidewalk, veering across the gap between the sidewalk and grass at a bad angle (rather than the recommended perpendicular approach) to get a feel for how the bike and body react to that sudden sensation of being jolted off balance by a rut in the road. I've fallen on the grass a couple of times practicing these drills but no harm done and it helped keep me from overreacting in group rides when the folks ahead didn't call out road hazards.


Expect it to be an ongoing process, including body fitness and bike fit to the body.

When I resumed cycling in 2015 after a 30 year hiatus I started on an upright comfort hybrid. Took years to recover from a broken back and neck after a 2001 car wreck, so I started slow. A year later I switched to a hybrid with riser bar at saddle height. Still on platform pedals.

By summer 2017 I was ready to try a road bike again. Huge adjustment. My neck flexibility was still poor -- the old C2 injury caused blurred vision from the drops. I started with the stem/handlebar at saddle height, platform pedals and casual shoes, and worked gradually toward better conditioning.

By January 2018 I was ready to try clipless, and made lots of little adjustments as my conditioning improved: firmer saddle, lower handlebar, etc. Even now I still make adjustments as necessary to suit either improvements in flexibility and conditioning, or in some cases the other way 'round due to physical setbacks (neck surgery in November 2018).

Before any ride I do a few quick drills around the parking lot to check my balance, be sure the bike is responding as expected, etc. Although I do pre-ride inspections too there have been a couple of occasions when something I've done after a pre-ride inspection changed things. For example, check to be sure any lights for nighttime rides, video cameras/mounts, U-locks, etc. don't interfere with turning the handlebar, braking and shifting, pedaling, etc. I don't put much stuff on my road bike, but on a few occasions I've found accessories interfered with something else on the hybrid bike, usually with the exposed cantilever brake cables when the handlebar was turned. Best to find out in the driveway or parking lot rather than on the road at high speed.
canklecat is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 07:31 PM
  #8  
Dschmale
BMX commuter gone roadie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 42

Bikes: Cheap ones

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You guys are awesome. Thank you for the thoughtful responses. Replacing the tires and doing a final assembly on the bike tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted if it all goes horribly wrong.
Dschmale is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 08:07 PM
  #9  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 3,828

Bikes: Velo Orange Piolet

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2061 Post(s)
Liked 1,670 Times in 808 Posts
Originally Posted by Dschmale View Post
My anxieties are myriad, but I know if I'm going to commute 100 miles a week...
Use the internet (Google maps, Strava, local bike forums) to find safe routes. Whenever I can I avoid cars - more and more bike paths are popping up that allow this - and if I must ride roads with cars I try to avoid busy commercial boulevards and heavy rush hour traffic routes.
tyrion is offline  
Old 02-27-19, 08:52 PM
  #10  
downhillmaster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 1,666
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 970 Post(s)
Liked 755 Times in 397 Posts
If your ‘anxieties are myriad’ you may need more help than we can offer.
Just sayin...
downhillmaster is offline  
Old 02-28-19, 12:40 PM
  #11  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,815

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2933 Post(s)
Liked 3,026 Times in 1,383 Posts
Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Use the internet (Google maps, Strava, local bike forums) to find safe routes. Whenever I can I avoid cars - more and more bike paths are popping up that allow this - and if I must ride roads with cars I try to avoid busy commercial boulevards and heavy rush hour traffic routes.
Good advice. The route you would take by car is usually not the best route by bike. Depending on how your city plan is laid out, you might find a much quieter street parallel to the main car arterials, or a detour could put you on a bike path. I like the idea of using Google maps and using the bike toggle. And then from there, experiment and explore.
caloso is offline  
Old 03-01-19, 06:36 AM
  #12  
Dschmale
BMX commuter gone roadie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 42

Bikes: Cheap ones

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Good advice. The route you would take by car is usually not the best route by bike. Depending on how your city plan is laid out, you might find a much quieter street parallel to the main car arterials, or a detour could put you on a bike path. I like the idea of using Google maps and using the bike toggle. And then from there, experiment and explore.
I'm fortunate to have a route that's through my neighborhood, then a trail until the last 3 miles, and those are largely residential streets. Google has been an awesome tool. I tried the route once but the trail was overrun by snow run-off and I wiped out into 8" of freezing water trying to ford it on my mountain bike/hybrid. I'm driving a few variations of the last few miles this afternoon to gauge it for next week.

I built my bike yesterday. Installed some 700x28 gatorskins and set the brakes up. Setting up the shifters and derailleurs this evening. I took it for a spin to test everything out. Once I reduce the travel on the shifters a good bit, I think I'll get the hnag of riding it pretty quickly. The geometry isn't nearly as different as I thought it would be. Feels like riding on the vertical ends of my mountain bike, only more natural. Good stuff.

Thanks again.
Dschmale is offline  
Old 03-01-19, 11:33 AM
  #13  
popeye
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Newport Beach, CA
Posts: 1,916

Bikes: S works Tarmac, Felt TK2 track

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 354 Post(s)
Liked 164 Times in 103 Posts
Protect your front wheel and hold your line.
popeye is offline  
Old 03-01-19, 11:44 AM
  #14  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,599

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,343 Times in 850 Posts
traffic in Alexandria VA has to be nuts, but I guess you get paid better there..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 03-01-19, 12:19 PM
  #15  
Sojodave
Senior Member
 
Sojodave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Utah
Posts: 581

Bikes: The Blurple Specialized Roubaix Pro

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 218 Post(s)
Liked 140 Times in 74 Posts
I came from mountain biking and I bought my first serious road bike four years ago. In my opinion, your number one priority would be to learn to enjoy biking. Find a club or someone to ride with. Don't worry about speed or power or cadence. Just learn how great it is to be out on your bike enjoying the day.

You can go down the rabbit hole pretty deep and you'll be tempted to buy a lot of road bike things. Buy some good padded bike shorts. Don't wear underwear, use them commando style. Get a good cleat system and some good shoes. Learning to clip in and how to unclip is something all bikers go through. Buy a good saddle and level it out. Eventually, you should invest in a good bike fit. I know, it sucks to pay someone to turn some bolts on your bike to get you dialed in. It will be worth it.

If you don't enjoy biking, what's the point.
Sojodave is offline  
Old 03-01-19, 12:20 PM
  #16  
Maelochs
Senior Member
 
Maelochs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 13,980

Bikes: 2015 Workswell 066, 2017 Workswell 093, 2014 Dawes Sheila, 1983 Cannondale 500, 1984 Raleigh Olympian, 2007 Cannondale Rize 4, 2017 Fuji Sportif 1 LE

Mentioned: 143 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6815 Post(s)
Liked 2,115 Times in 1,146 Posts
This thread is turning out well. post pics and ride reports as you have time, please.
Maelochs is offline  
Old 03-03-19, 02:38 PM
  #17  
Athens80
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,207
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
Liked 16 Times in 13 Posts
The Strava heat map here https://www.strava.com/heatmap#12.38...80648/hot/ride is a great place to see where others in your area are riding. The "hotter" the street, the more riders are using that street in the rides they upload to Strava.
Athens80 is offline  
Old 03-05-19, 08:51 AM
  #18  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 28,482

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 109 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4899 Post(s)
Liked 2,872 Times in 1,923 Posts
Originally Posted by Dschmale View Post
I'm fortunate to have a route that's through my neighborhood, then a trail until the last 3 miles, and those are largely residential streets. Google has been an awesome tool. I tried the route once but the trail was overrun by snow run-off and I wiped out into 8" of freezing water trying to ford it on my mountain bike/hybrid. I'm driving a few variations of the last few miles this afternoon to gauge it for next week.
you should be done w snow runoff & seeing cherry blossoms soon, no?
rumrunn6 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Larsenex
General Cycling Discussion
27
01-25-19 06:32 AM
jade408
General Cycling Discussion
10
08-29-15 06:17 PM
steve0257
Fifty Plus (50+)
8
06-11-11 08:06 PM
DeusVolt
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
6
06-01-11 01:09 PM
FunkyStickman
Utility Cycling
20
02-14-11 07:42 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.