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Where to Start

Old 05-23-17, 04:15 PM
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SarahBeth
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Where to Start

I'm in the processing of purchasing a new bike and confess I know nothing about fitness in respect to cycling. In fact, I don't know where to begin and I hope you can help.

I've utilized walking in the past but will be replacing that with the bike. I expect to ride daily and have a flexible schedule to accommodate this. I've lost a significant amount of weight on my own (200 pounds) without exercise and maintained 95 percent of that loss for a decade.

My goal is the finish line and an active lifestyle. In regards to food, I eat seasonally and choose organic options whenever possible. I make my own baked goods, sauces, condiments, yogurt, etc. As for meats, it's largely poultry and fish. I don't consume refined sugars, flours, or bread and other items which utilize preservatives. I prepare these things at home instead.

So with this in mind, what areas do I need to focus on in the beginning that will enable me to progress as a cyclist while accomplishing my health goals in turn?
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Old 05-24-17, 03:00 AM
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How do you want to ride?


For utility minded riding, get a utility minded bike. Something with fenders, rack and some gears.


All riders with space to store more than one bike should have one bike like this.
The "bad weather bike", the "beater", the "grocery getter", "errand runner".
You can go from sporty hybrids to "cute" townies.
All depends if you want to ride in style or in sweat.


There are MTBs of all sorts. Those labeled XC(cross-country) MTBs are fairly similar to sporty hybrids, but rugged enough to let you ride flat out over roots and rocks.


There are drop bar road bikes. These give you the most miles/speed for a set amount of effort.


But it can take some time to make friends with the hunched over posture and the drop bar.
There's any number of threads here on how to turn a drop bar bike into a flat bar bike.(and the opposite).
For a rookie rider, particularly in hilly country, you might not find the stock gearing to your liking.
There are workarounds to this, in various degree of refinement.
The belts-and-braces approach are bikes with triple cranks.
They're a little frowned upon, but you get a lot of versatility for very little "cost".


Most difficult thing for a rookie rider is to know when something is truly wrong with bike fit etc, or when you're simply not used to the exercise.
A certain level of stubbornness is required, to avoid chasing shadows.


I think the most common mistake I see is WRT perceived exertion.
Bicycling in general is a lot more about endurance than it is about strength.
You should be panting, not grunting.


A good help is to get a bike computer that can measure cadence (pedalling pace). Choose a gear that lets you pedal at a cadence of 80-100.


Might feel strange, but it is the way to do it.


Read up on stretching and complementary exercises. Bicycling doesn't build much core strength, but bicycling gets easier if you have some core strength.
And stretching. Most road riding tend to happen within a limited range of motion, so some stretching to retain overall mobility is a good thing.
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Old 05-24-17, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
So with this in mind, what areas do I need to focus on in the beginning that will enable me to progress as a cyclist while accomplishing my health goals in turn?
Be comfortable on the bike. Get it fit. Try to ride at a high cadence with low resistance. Enjoy your time on the bike. You'll progress naturally from there.
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Old 05-24-17, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
How do you want to ride?
Right now I'm looking at the Cannondale Quick 4. It's pretty flat where I live but I'm moving to Boston and wanted something that will accommodate both terrains. My purpose for the bike is fitness. I'm in walking distance to everything and a car isn't necessary.

For utility minded riding, get a utility minded bike. Something with fenders, rack and some gears.
Any recommendations on the fender and rack?

All riders with space to store more than one bike should have one bike like this. The "bad weather bike", the "beater", the "grocery getter", "errand runner". You can go from sporty hybrids to "cute" townies. All depends if you want to ride in style or in sweat.
I discovered that most recently while researching cruisers. I was staunchly in the style category but realized I don't need to choose but fit the bike to my purposes instead. I suppose that's an early justification for additional purchases.

Most difficult thing for a rookie rider is to know when something is truly wrong with bike fit etc, or when you're simply not used to the exercise.A certain level of stubbornness is required, to avoid chasing shadows.
I've ordered a few books from the library for this reason. I wouldn't have the first idea on how to change a flat and knowing the basics helps. We have several local options for basic mechanics and I think it's worth the investment.

I think the most common mistake I see is WRT perceived exertion. Bicycling in general is a lot more about endurance than it is about strength. You should be panting, not grunting.
Thanks for the tip. My expectations are very simple. I haven't ridden since childhood. Speed and endurance will increase over time.

A good help is to get a bike computer that can measure cadence (pedalling pace). Choose a gear that lets you pedal at a cadence of 80-100.
Do you have any recommendations? I figured this would be a good thing to purchase.

Read up on stretching and complementary exercises. Bicycling doesn't build much core strength, but bicycling gets easier if you have some core strength. And stretching. Most road riding tend to happen within a limited range of motion, so some stretching to retain overall mobility is a good thing.
Gotcha. One of the books I ordered focuses on this. And I figured it would probably be a good idea to add pilates to the mix. Thanks for your help.
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Old 05-24-17, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Be comfortable on the bike. Get it fit. Try to ride at a high cadence with low resistance. Enjoy your time on the bike. You'll progress naturally from there.
Thanks for the encouragement. It's a lot to take in but I'll get the hang of it after a while. Any tips on how to ride at high cadence with low resistance? I'm not completely scratching my head just yet.
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Old 05-24-17, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
Any tips on how to ride at high cadence with low resistance?
Save
Just choose a gear that allows you to spin the pedals at 80-100 rpm. If resistance increases to the point where it is tough to maintain this (or decreases to where you're pedalling fast enough that you're bouncing on the seat), shift. Repeat as needed.

The only exception here is hills. There may be times when you need to violate this guidance if you run out of gears and can't maintain your target cadence. But do your best to try.

After some time, it'll become muscle memory and you'll do this without thinking about it.
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Old 05-24-17, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
Thanks for the encouragement. It's a lot to take in but I'll get the hang of it after a while. Any tips on how to ride at high cadence with low resistance? I'm not completely scratching my head just yet.
Save
Use your shifters a lot.

There's a learning curve with learning to ride a bike (well), just like anything else in life. Trying to figure it all out at once is probably going to make it more daunting than heading out on your bike and figuring things out as they arise.

I've been riding thousands of miles per year, for more than a decade. My honey has never been a cyclist but sometimes we rent bikes together when we're on vacation. She never shifts enough, it's pretty rare for her to shift at all. This is a mistake, and it seems to be a common one for new riders. Your gears are there to make it easier for you. You could go out and buy a computer with a cadence sensor and try to remember the numbers to target ... or you could ride naturally but focus on shifting gears and see for yourself how they help. I think if you do the later, it'll all become clear.

But as a head start on the concept, you basically can make the bike go forward by pushing hard on the pedals, or by pushing lightly and turning them more quickly. The first one uses leg strength and the second one doesn't, it uses cardiovascular fitness instead. Your shifters let you move the burden from your legs to your lungs, or vice versa. When you go down a hill, you'll want to shift into a gear that lets you push harder because you won't be able to turn them any faster; when you go up a hill you'll want to do the opposite and shift away from leg strength because the hill will require enough of that already. But go out and try it because it's easier to remember from experience than from something you read online.
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Old 05-24-17, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by gbru316 View Post
Just choose a gear that allows you to spin the pedals at 80-100 rpm. If resistance increases to the point where it is tough to maintain this (or decreases to where you're pedalling fast enough that you're bouncing on the seat), shift. Repeat as needed.
Okay, that's easy to remember. Thanks for the explanation. The last time I rode a bike there were no gears in sight.

The only exception here is hills. There may be times when you need to violate this guidance if you run out of gears and can't maintain your target cadence. But do your best to try.

After some time, it'll become muscle memory and you'll do this without thinking about it.
We have a track along the lake that's very flat. I'll do most of my riding there and another spot which isn't hilly but has a modest mini climb every now and then. I'll test this out in both spots.
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Old 05-24-17, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post

But as a head start on the concept, you basically can make the bike go forward by pushing hard on the pedals, or by pushing lightly and turning them more quickly. The first one uses leg strength and the second one doesn't, it uses cardiovascular fitness instead. Your shifters let you move the burden from your legs to your lungs, or vice versa. When you go down a hill, you'll want to shift into a gear that lets you push harder because you won't be able to turn them any faster; when you go up a hill you'll want to do the opposite and shift away from leg strength because the hill will require enough of that already. But go out and try it because it's easier to remember from experience than from something you read online.
Brilliant explanation! Thanks a lot. You've probably saved me a lot of frustration trying to figure out those dials.
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Old 05-24-17, 12:17 PM
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Okay, so what do you eat or do you do so before heading out? I'm looking at riding midmorning and I have very little for breakfast save a cup of coffee. I typically eat two meals per day.

And what about post ride?
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Old 05-24-17, 12:23 PM
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I don't like to eat (much) before I ride. Heavy food sloshing around in my stomach can make me nauseous especially at high intensities. My personal rule is that food is unnecessary unless I plan to be on the bike for 3+ hours. But this is personal, part of getting in shape involves your body getting better at using stored fat for energy. Also, a lot of the time I'll go away for a weekend and ride somewhere new, I'm usually too excited to wait for breakfast.

A cup of coffee might be plenty for you for the rides you're doing. Bring a pack of peanut M&Ms just in case. These are good on a bike because the sugar becomes available very quickly, and because they come in a handy container, you can eat a few while you ride and save the rest for when you need them later. But experiment because something else might work better for you.

If you ride hard, and get your heart beating, some carbohydrates will help you recover more quickly. Chocolate milk is a popular after ride drink.
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Old 05-24-17, 12:32 PM
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I usually recommend that riders eat real food. Looks like you already do that.
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Old 05-24-17, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
I'm in the processing of purchasing a new bike and confess I know nothing about fitness in respect to cycling. In fact, I don't know where to begin and I hope you can help.

I've utilized walking in the past but will be replacing that with the bike. I expect to ride daily and have a flexible schedule to accommodate this. I've lost a significant amount of weight on my own (200 pounds) without exercise and maintained 95 percent of that loss for a decade.

My goal is the finish line and an active lifestyle. In regards to food, I eat seasonally and choose organic options whenever possible. I make my own baked goods, sauces, condiments, yogurt, etc. As for meats, it's largely poultry and fish. I don't consume refined sugars, flours, or bread and other items which utilize preservatives. I prepare these things at home instead.

So with this in mind, what areas do I need to focus on in the beginning that will enable me to progress as a cyclist while accomplishing my health goals in turn?



get the bike, get on it, set it on "scenic view" and ride it every day.
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
I don't like any other exercise or sports, really.
....

http://www.xxcycle.com/logo_w150h100/bmc.jpg
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Old 05-24-17, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
So with this in mind, what areas do I need to focus on in the beginning that will enable me to progress as a cyclist while accomplishing my health goals in turn?
To quote the legendary Eddy Merckx, "Ride lots"
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Old 05-24-17, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
Right now I'm looking at the Cannondale Quick 4. It's pretty flat where I live but I'm moving to Boston and wanted something that will accommodate both terrains. My purpose for the bike is fitness. I'm in walking distance to everything and a car isn't necessary.
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That is a good choice for all-purpose riding.

Boston is a fun place to ride, especially in rush hour... bicycle is defiantly the fastest way to get around Boston.
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Old 05-24-17, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post

And what about post ride?

Protein and carbohydrates.
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Old 05-25-17, 04:51 AM
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Don't quit when your butt gets sore. I don't how many people I have seen give up for this reason. This will pass. Keep it simple to start-regular peddles. You can add the high tech stuff later. Try to ride away from traffic-secondary roads. Wear a helmet. Enjoy the experience. A bicycle is a beautiful thing.
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Old 05-25-17, 12:32 PM
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There is a lively group of cyclists in the Boston area. Try to spend some time there. http://www.bikeforums.net/northeast/...ide-today.html
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Old 05-25-17, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I don't like to eat (much) before I ride. Heavy food sloshing around in my stomach can make me nauseous especially at high intensities. My personal rule is that food is unnecessary unless I plan to be on the bike for 3+ hours.
I didn't have success eating before I walked and experienced nausea with vitamins. A small glass of water was all I desired. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone on that point.

A cup of coffee might be plenty for you for the rides you're doing. Bring a pack of peanut M&Ms just in case. These are good on a bike because the sugar becomes available very quickly, and because they come in a handy container, you can eat a few while you ride and save the rest for when you need them later. But experiment because something else might work better for you.
I can't eat them or most candies available in the store due to the refined sugar. My palate won't tolerate them. They're too sweet. I do like dark chocolate and make my own granola. Would that work?

If you ride hard, and get your heart beating, some carbohydrates will help you recover more quickly. Chocolate milk is a popular after ride drink.
Oy, I haven't had that since childhood. But I use whole milk in my smoothies and that may be an option. Thanks for the tips. You're the first to recommend M&Ms.
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Old 05-25-17, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I usually recommend that riders eat real food. Looks like you already do that.
I always did for the most part but really dug in and it's made a difference. My body responds pretty quickly when I'm eating things I shouldn't.
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Old 05-25-17, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
That is a good choice for all-purpose riding.

Boston is a fun place to ride, especially in rush hour... bicycle is defiantly the fastest way to get around Boston.
Sweet! You're the second person who's said that. I'm testing the bike this week and hope it's the one. I really like it.

Oy, did you say rush hour?? I plan to stick to paths. I live in a very busy business district with impatient drivers. It will take time before I hit the streets. And that will hold true for Boston.
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Old 05-25-17, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Ray9 View Post
Don't quit when your butt gets sore. I don't how many people I have seen give up for this reason. This will pass. Keep it simple to start-regular peddles. You can add the high tech stuff later. Try to ride away from traffic-secondary roads. Wear a helmet. Enjoy the experience. A bicycle is a beautiful thing.
That's the beauty of forums, You hear little hints that will come to mind when physical discomfort questions your choice to ride.

We have a very nice path and another quiet lane that I'll be using. During the midday, I'll encounter walkers, strollers, and a couple of bikes. It's the perfect time.
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Old 05-25-17, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
There is a lively group of cyclists in the Boston area. Try to spend some time there. http://www.bikeforums.net/northeast/...ide-today.html
Thank you for the link! I'm pleasantly surprised about the social nature of cycling and the numerous groups and events available. It may be a contender for golf after all.
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Old 05-25-17, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
You're the first to recommend M&Ms. Save
Sure. They're junk food. They're heavy on calories and light on nutrition. Normally that's a bad thing and normally you want to avoid it. But this is a special case. You're not just sitting on the couch, storing the calories as fat; you're out on a bike, getting tired, and need quick energy. (I didn't recommend to go eat a bag, I suggested bringing them as a backup plan if you're worried about exercising without eating first.)

I would think dark chocolate would work just as well. There's going to be some personal preference involved, go try it!

I'd like to suggest a link that I think/hope you'll benefit from:

http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#13/-...6057/blue/bike

I'm certain you know Boston better than I do. This map shows where other cyclists like to ride in and around Boston. Usually (but not always!) there's a good reason everybody chooses one route. So these tend to be good places to ride.
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Old 05-25-17, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SarahBeth View Post
Oy, did you say rush hour?? I plan to stick to paths. I live in a very busy business district with impatient drivers. It will take time before I hit the streets. And that will hold true for Boston.
Yes, I used to commute from Harvard Square to Beacon Hill on the road during rush hour...quite a thrill, if you have the temperament for such things.
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