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Recovered bike! ...now what?

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

Recovered bike! ...now what?

Old 08-22-12, 11:34 PM
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Recovered bike! ...now what?

So 2 years ago my bike was stolen, and about 1 year ago I got it back... I've been riding it everywhere, commuting (no car), and doing as much repair work as I know how to do. I am visiting family now and I miss riding my bike! the chainring is 52x39, and the cassette goes 13-26. There are hills I can't climb and times when I want a little more speed, but eh, whatever. I rebuilt the wheels, and the front is ok, but I'm still improving the back. I shoot for 100 miles/week, but when I get home I know I'll be out of shape and probably do half that. What is the next step, in terms of fitness and/or mechanics? It's a long shot, but anyone know good paths around Thurston county WA, USA?
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Old 08-23-12, 12:18 AM
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Tangentially, I've thought about either adding teeth to the large chainring or (more likely) going to a wider range for the cassette. If 11-28 (or so) in back is the direction I want to go, how much should I expect to spend for parts and labor? Would it be worth it on the climbs? I know I would go faster, but I am more concerned about the fit and "gain" for climbing
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Old 08-23-12, 12:23 AM
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what? Ok, first off, welcome to BF and No to knowing any paths in washington.

secondly, your LBS can probably help with the trueness of your wheels (easiest, about $25 a wheel).

As far as hills you cant climb you have 2 options. improve the rider, or alter the bike. If you do indeed ride 100 miles a week, you will soon be able to climb those hills, in the meantime you should take rides that have easier hills until your ready for more. your other option is to change your gearing, like putting a compact (34,50) crank up front or a rear cassette with a larger ring if your rear der can handle it.

the large hills I have here kick my butt too, but I havent had to walk up any yet. I start at the bottom in the highest gear I can turn seated. I pedal until it gets tough then downshift 1 gear, repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually I stand up and up shift 2 or 3 gears to where it "feels" right. stand and pedal for 10 - 20 strokes, then sit back down, down shift, catch my wind, and repeat....slow going but it works.
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Old 08-23-12, 12:25 AM
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The easiest and cheapest thing to do is swap out your rear cassette. You don't mention which components you have nor what your budget is, but you can probably find a new 11 (or 12)-28 cassette (I know SRAM makes 'em) for $50 or so depending on which model you get.

Installing is a piece of cake if you have the cassette tool & a chain whip and worth doing yourself. You may need to adjust the B screw on your rear derailleur when adding a larger cassette. Check youtube or parktooks.com for how-to videos.

You can probably get to a 16 tooth spread between your two front chain rings without impacting shift performance too badly but really, what's the point of going from 53 to 55? If you're spinning out a 53/11 combo you probably just need to get more aero on those big descents.
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Old 08-23-12, 12:38 AM
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That's what I was thinking, more and better riding should do the trick. $50 for harder and easier gears sounds ok to me. Good to know I have options, just in case.
SPECS, just for fun...
BB is 68x113
derailleurs and chainset are shimano 2300
myself, I'm a 165-lb smoker with cadence issues...
...oh and sorry that I confused you, cato, I true my own wheels and expected cyclists to know what a tangent is.
see a new cassette in my future? and/or, hopefully, many years of cycling
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Old 08-23-12, 01:02 AM
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I just moved from Olympia. If you're looking for paths, the Chehalis western trail is pretty good. Its busy up until the golf courses, but once you hook a left onto the 400 foot unpaved part, you'll be suprised to see more than 3 people between there and rainier. Then you can continue to yelm, or take a right at the T and go to chehalis. From downtown olympia, its 42 miles to rainier and back. Its flat as a board, with one 150' 4% grade. Also, there are food options in Rainier, and yelm and chehalis too, I'm sure.

If you're looking for road routes, Going out to Boston Harbor is always a wonderful ride. It's about 20 miles round trip from downtown olympia, and is pretty much constant hills, but the only tough one is ~4 miles out and theres a shell gas station at the top. That being said, none of the hills are really challenging if you're somewhat fit. On the way out, look for San Franciso St. That can be a challenge, i think its like 350'-500' tall, but tops out at 17%! when it hooks a right, youll want to be in your lowest gear. Shifting after this point is hard on the drivetrain

Riding out to evergreen college can be pretty fun, starting off with harrison hill, 12% at the steepest I believe(theres also an easy route up harrison, after the second roundabout, take a right, theres a bit of a kicker, then all easy grades). you can take cooper pt or another route, cant remember the street name, and the latter is a narrower back road, but is relatively flat. Never really had a problem with cars out there, since they're all used to the greeners biking in. Cooper Pt does have a better shoulder tho.

Theres also a group ride that leaves the tumwater falls park tuesdays and thursdays at 5:45 i believe, but this is a tough ride. they love hills, and as a smoker just getting back into cycling, it might be too tough, and you'll get dropped.

Biking out along henderson is also a nice ride.

If you dont have clipless pedals, get them, they help TREMENDOUSLY on the hills when standing!

Hope it helps! say hello to the grey skies for me! The arizona sun says hi!
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Old 08-23-12, 12:48 PM
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"I know I would go faster, but I am more concerned about the fit and "gain" for climbing"

Getting into an easier gear won't help you go faster. In fact, it'll help you go slower, which is exactly what you want to do if you are having trouble on a hill. The lower gear makes it easier to turn the cranks, which helps keep you from having to stop or get off to walk the bike.

To go as fast or faster in a lower gear than you could going using a higher gear, you would have to spin that much faster in the lower gear. That extra spinning is going to wear you out just as easily as you would wear out using a higher gear.

As you build strength – because you'll be riding uphill, rather than stopping or walking – you'll discover soon enough that you won't need the lower gear. At that point you can get a new cassette, or you can hold that low gear in reserve for truly epic hills.

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Old 08-23-12, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by oldskoolcat
It's a long shot, but anyone know good paths around Thurston county WA, USA?
This book lists several, but my copy is at home and I'm at work. I haven't ridden any, so I don't know more specifically than that.

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Old 08-23-12, 01:19 PM
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Thanks everyone, I like a good book and nice basic advice. If I were at home, I would be working on my bike myself (cleaning etc) but being away from it, this is the next best thing (3rd to actually riding). Thanks especially to Slow-O, I have ridden Henderson and BH, but I've only eyeballed the Chehalis trail... probably this weekend I'll work on my tan (ha) by heading out to Ranier. Love those Dutch-style bike paths out around the college!
Now it's time to alienate myself a bit by admitting that I ride plain-clothes and I actually traded stock lock-in pedals for traditional styles. Got some advice on a helmet? I mean, which one is good for like $30-50, not how important are they. I was thinking of getting a dressage equestrian helmet, because I am a strange individual.
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