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I need advice(12 posts)

I need adviceRandyMH
Jun 26, 2001 10:09 PM
Sunday I put a deposit on my new C'Dale R400. I planned on picking it up soon but had a car accident today so it may have to wait until this blows over. Anyway, I am very excited to ride my first bike. However, I need some advice on how to get started riding. I eventually want to ride with some groups but in the beginning I would like to spend some time getting use to the bike and just enjoying it by myself. How should I go about plotting out a beginning course? How far should it be? Should I ride the same route everyday and just work on time? I am in far north Dallas, which is populated but rural areas can be reached easily. Is it usually ok to ride from the doorstep or should I go somewhere special to ride. I will be riding with the stock pedals in the beginning while in heavily populated areas, but plan on using clip less pedals soon. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
re: I need adviceGregJ
Jun 26, 2001 10:38 PM
The length and intensity of your first rides really depend on the level of fitness that you already have. If you are fit I think ten or fifteen mile rides should give you an idea of what you can do. I would relax, get used to the bike and gears, do some reading about position and fit, learn when to stand and pedal, get a feeling of proper cadence, learn when to have your hands on the brake hoods and when to be in the drops and on top of the bars. There are plenty of good books on the basics of cycling. I started riding in a very casual way, as transportation to classes when I was in college, then I started running errands, then I started to ride to the local parks and bike paths for fun. Eventually I started to venture out into the country to challange my endurance and then I did some touring and then a bit of racing. This has all been great and I have been riding 20 years and still love it. I would advise you to explore different routes, one of the things I loved about cycling when I started and still love today is the sense of adventure and discovery that you get when riding in new terrain. I drive elswhere to ride occasionally but 90 % of my miles are logged from my front door. You will progress rapidly in speed and endurance if you can train yourself to ride consistently, at least a few times a week. Cycling is a hard but rewarding pastime, best wishes.
re: I need advicemike mcmahon
Jun 26, 2001 10:41 PM
First of all, congratulations and welcome. Your natural inclination to spend some time alone getting used to the bike is good. You should spend some time honing your bike-handling skills before taking on group rides. The length of your beginning rides depends in large part on your beginning fitness level. Your rides will probably be faster and longer if you've been running marathons for the past 10 years rather than lying on the sofa with bag of pork rinds and a six-pack. Even if you're in decent shape, I would recommend not going farther than about 15 miles from home on your first trip out. You may feel great for the first hour or so, only to find that you're ready to fall over 10 minutes later.

For me, loading the bike in the car and driving someplace to ride it takes some of the joy out of riding. I much prefer riding out of the garage at the beginning of a ride and back into it at the end. You may find that any tension relief you lose in a good ride returns in spades fighting traffic in the car on the way back home. Finally, although you probably have already figured this part out, you should have the materials and ability to fix a flat on the road. You don't want to end up doing the "walk of shame" the first time you take the new bike out for a spin. Get yourself a tube, a patch kit, some tire irons, and a pump and figure out how to use them before leaving the house. I've rambled on, but have also left out a lot. I'm sure others will fill in the gaps. Have fun and be safe.
Another Convert WOOOHOOO!Mabero
Jun 27, 2001 5:55 AM
Welcome worthy friend please come closer come closer (Aladdin)...Congrats on the new bike and hopefully the accident won't keep you down any longer. Just to reiterate what the other people have said, I would really plan on only going 10-15 miles, especially if you aren't coming from a biking background. Otherwise not only will you start probably to tire (assuming you have some relative fitness) but your "buttocks" will start to hurt. Either way if you aren't coming from a bike background make sure you have padded shorts! As it is my girlfriend has just bought a Lemond and has started riding with 0 fitness and she went out on her first ride (slow oh god it was slow!) about 13 miles or so.

You are right in assuming you need to be out in learning by yourself first. Really let yourself understand the proper dynamics of shifting, I am amazed at the difference between seeing her (my gf) shift and myself...I really take it for granted. Once you start getting the shifting down you will definately start to gain a lot more control of the bike all together...you'll be fine.

As for what routes should you take? Ahhh...that's what I love...you can take anything. That backroad that you always see rolling out in the distance as you drive home from work that you really don't know if it goes where...well now you can find out. Exploring is a ton of fun. I live in New Hampshire so I have plenty of terrain that possesses the opportunity to really explore by myself...or with people. But more often than not I like daydreaming off by myself on some country road with sun at my back...ahhhh.....yum yum

Good Luck and happy sailing.
RouteDCP
Jun 27, 2001 7:27 AM
I live in Houston and stayed away from road bikes for many years believing them too dangerous. I have an MTB that I ride around the neighborhood where I ride mostly on sidewalks. Been doing that for years but finally was seduced by those light road bikes. I wish I had not waited so long. I have really enjoyed it.

Traffic is simply too much of a worry for me to have an enjoyable ride on the road near my house, and so unlike Mike, I prefer putting my bike on the car and going someplace with good roads and little traffic. Getting out in the country is good too. Many clubs have routes set up where they have determined that the roads are in good shape. They often find little used back roads. Join a club and get some maps. Your LBS should be able to help you find clubs and figure out what their orientation is (such as racing or group rides).

While I absolutely agree that you need to ride by yourself for a bit to become comfortable with bike handling, many clubs have orientation rides for beginners which are very useful.

One more thing, if you look at this board and others much, you will get the impression that any bike you may have is crappy because is isn't made out of (fill in blank here), doesn't have (fill in blank here), and didn't cost more than $5,000. Don't believe it. Differences in bikes in the range you are buying and up are subtle. That doesn't mean they are not real, it just means that you have enough bike to really enjoy yourself and you should without worrying about whether you really need (fill in the blank here).
just moved from Dallas last yearScottH
Jun 27, 2001 7:28 AM
I'm not sure what part of Dallas you are in but I would recomend taking your car out for a drive to map out a good low traffic route. Dallas motorists are VERY unfriendly to cyclists. Try to avoid roads without shoulders and keep to the far right as much as possible. Also, if you can find a friend to ride with that can show you some of the basics it will be very helpfull.

Good luck and welcome to an amazing sport!
Call Richardson Bike Mart or a closer LBSLeroy L
Jun 27, 2001 8:22 AM
or wherever you bought the bike, and ask them about group rides. That will introduce you to the 'cult,' and get you into some safety-in-numbers situations. There is an art to finding the streets and roads that are more cycle friendly. Be conspicuous and don't let 'em squeeze you out.
I ride Dallas streets every day, never had a major problem(nm)Dave Hickey
Jun 27, 2001 11:26 AM
"Technique before speed."bill
Jun 27, 2001 9:12 AM
Yes, I copped that right out of Bicycling Magazine. And I think it's right. I was talking about the subtle improvements I've made in technique to a non-cyclist, and he thought I was crazy -- isn't riding a bike riding a bike?
But it isn't. Particularly with the skittishness you'll find with a road bike if you are unused to the center of gravity and the stance, I think that, after your first couple of getting-to-know you rides, you should read up a little on proper technique. As with many things, you can do it knowing very little, but if you really want to get good, you should start from the beginning doing it right.
A couple of initial pointers -- keep your elbows bent and in. Keep your knees next to the top tube. Pedal in circles. Lean when you turn.
"Technique before speed." Here here!sidley
Jun 27, 2001 12:37 PM
As stated above, develop your comfort with the bike so you can ride safely on the road in the presence of autos and eventually with other cyclists. Keep your hands on the hoods when cruising, don't be afraid to stand (it will hurt at first), and shift as often as you need.

Most importantly, know that in addition to overall fitness and strength, efficient cycling depends on smooth pedaling technique.
Re:I need advicesugarloaf
Jun 27, 2001 9:14 AM
I ride from my doorstep. I really have no other sane choice during the week because I live in NYC. Traffic's not a big deal because I just go across town on side streets and hit Central Park, which is closed to traffic by the time I get there. There are rollerbladers and pedestrians that have to be negotiated once in the park, though.

By the time I'd drive to anyplace worthy, I'd probably have 45 minutes of quality riding time before dark. In certain ways it's a drag to ride the same route every time, but it's good in terms of setting personal standards.

If it's just plain unsafe to ride in your immediate area, then don't - but the fewer hurdles between you and a ride, the better.

At first you should probably just cruise around the neighborhood or whatever safe place and get used to handling, shifting, braking before heading out into any kind of traffic.
re: I need advicedavee
Jun 27, 2001 5:03 PM
This Worked for Me

Start out close to home. Extend your range as your comfort level allows. Your body WILL speak to you.

One of my greatest thrills in cycling was the first time I was 10 miles from home, and realized I was counting on my own legs and lungs and bike to get me home. I decided to keep pedaling (away) for a couple more miles, and was incredibly pleased with myself when I got back home from my first 25 mile ride.

But,do listen to your body, and remember that you have to get back home. Lots of luck.