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Tell me about bicycling

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by nanovapr, Jun 28, 2012.

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  1. nanovapr

    nanovapr Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 15, 2011
    Catatonic State, USA
    I"ve been not smoking for a year, feel lots better, and have become a beginning biker.

    I am trying to equip the spousal unit and myself for very casual trail riding, we will never be on pavement. I'm fortunate that I live a few minutes from a nice rail-trail. All the extra paraphernalia times 2 can get expensive at once. I tried to avoid Walmart bikes, starting with a Trek 4300 (used hardtail MTB, $90) and a Trek 7200 (new hybrid, for $200). Adding the 'what-nots' cheaply to get the basics, will replace with better when they wear out.

    We'll never be downhilling, single-tracking, road racing, BMX, or commuting. We will only ever be casually putting along, it is great scenery.

    Helmets? Slow-speed gawker-riding only, prefer good ventilation (106 degrees here today).
    Good bike shorts with chamois?
    Cleats? I know they are terribly more efficient, but might be too much for casual riding for me.

    I have been learning about proper bike setup, knee/foot alignment, etc. My 4300 is perhaps a tiny bit large for my inseam x .88 (or whatever it is), but was a bargain.

    Help me out ECF, I know a lot of us are exercising more, steer me into some good habits.
     
  2. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    I'm too lazy to copy and paste what I suggested in the PM, but some stuff I may have left out...

    There are mountain bike shorts that look like normal pants, I recently tried a bib, and love it!

    Clipless pedals might be overkill for you, but they do help provide proper pedaling and a better exercise. I have some on my roadbike, but they have some for mountain bikes that look easier to clip into. And the shoes have a smaller profile than most road bike cleats. I recommend them but if you're just starting out, stick with the straps on the pedals and see if it's something you'd be interested in.

    Personally, I just started to ride again after a few years of letting my roadbike just hang in my garage, 3 weeks ago. I've put on some fat but oddly lost a little weight. So I decided to start biking 3 times a week until I can get comfortable on my bike again. My bike seat is hard and hurts for awhile start biking, so starting next week I'll start biking 5 times a week to get in better shape.
     
  3. Kevbro

    Kevbro Full Member

    May 20, 2012
    Central Midwest
    It's an awesome feeling, to want to get out and expend some excess energy. My "crew" and I had a lively 16 mile midnight excursion on tuesday night. Pitch black 10 mile rail-trail (need a headlight), and some street riding.

    IMO, you don't need anything fancy to start off with. An old Schwinn hidden in the garage will work better than a new store boughten. It's the maintenance that really makes a bike good. That, and making sure it fits you. Oh yeah, and the most comfy seat you can find.
    -lube it up (the bike)
    -check the bearings
    -make sure the rims are true
    -properly inflated tires
    -adjust derailleurs, and brakes
    Just think of it as a very tiny car. With that, if your'e not mechanically inclined, take it to be serviced.

    I had just given away an old gary fisher aquilla frame, thinking I would not ride very much in the future.
    Just by chance, my uncle gave me a Trek 1400 (mid 90's) that he picked up for a song. It has a busted rear derailleur mounting. But here in indy 1 gear will get you there.
    I'm definitely the odd man out on the crew, but it's a blast just to get out and do that damn thing again.

    Just ease into it and really see if you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.
    kev
     
  4. nanovapr

    nanovapr Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 15, 2011
    Catatonic State, USA
    Thanks for the info, here is some background. I smoked hard for 35 years. I spent 25 years working outdoors (farming, corn/wheat/beans/cattle) and was always in excellent shape. Since then I have spent 12 years behind a desk (network admin). I am *not* in excellent shape now, but through the grace of good genes have remained in good health. However good it was, it is definitely better without smoking, now I've been working towards biking.

    I find it fascinating to read the hard-cores, talking about adjusting their seat 1 cm, and feel the difference in (fill in the blank) muscle groups. I am not there, all of my groups need work ;) We've been riding 20 or 30 miles a week total in several sessions, just trying to get used to it, and learn about operating the dang things! I had one bike growing up, a big old iron bike that weighed as much as I did. Rural gravel roads weren't fun. Later on I got into dirt bikes/motocross/enduro bikes, but that's a different story.

    Clipless pedals seem like something that "going cheap" on doesn't seem like a good idea. My Trek had Avenir toe clips on it, that I immediately took off, they freaked me out! Now that I've been riding a bit, I put them back on a day ago, but haven't ridden with them yet. I think the previous owner had bigger feet than me. When the ball of my foot is centered on the pedal, I still have an inch in front of my foot to the clip. Are they supposed to have space there?

    I am mechanically inclined, so I have been doing the basic maintenance on them, and learning how it all works. It's been triple-digit temps this week, have only ridden once so far.
     
  5. Krabill

    Krabill Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Dec 12, 2011
    Tulsa
    I love my clipless pedals, but I'm riding technical, rocky single-track. I'm not convinced they are a necessity when cruising down a smooth bike path taking in the scenery. I've been using them for years and they aren't anything special. I'm using regular old Shimano SPD pedals and cheap store brand shoes from Nashbar. They work great.

    I used regular toe clips for quite a few years before I switched. I liked those too, I've just found clipless to simply work better. And to answer your question on fit, I always just jammed my foot right up to the front of the clip back when I used them.

    Good job on getting out there. Keep it up.
     
  6. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    I agree, all the "stuff to buy" I mentioned in the PM, is more of a future shopping list, purchased one at a time. Only thing I would stress about is a helmet, and extra tubes and a patch kit.

    I spoiled myself with the expensive-er stuff because I had a job and very little bills... And as soon as I rode with a borrowed jersey and pearl izumi shorts, I haven't went biking without them. Same goes to my clipless pedals!

    When I was younger i'd always take my helmet off or leave it at home and say I forgot it... Now, I don't hop on my bike without it. Even if I'm just going to sit on it, lol makes me feel like I'm going fast haha
     
  7. nanovapr

    nanovapr Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 15, 2011
    Catatonic State, USA
    I didn't ride again today, too dang hot, and I had to mow a couple of hours after work.

    So far, this is my "don't leave home without it" stuff, as far as riding.

    1 new tube per bike (one's 26", the other is 700)
    patch kit (just the little bandaid ones)
    bike multi-tool (I am a daily Leatherman carrier anyway, this is a Leatherman for bikes!)
    Leatherman (force of habit)
    tire levers
    GPS (not a bike one, just a handheld one, good for seeing what we are doing)
    Mace (dogs, zombies, etc)
    Snack (because I like snacks)
    Space blanket (they weigh nothing, in a worst-case scenario of a broken leg or something, could have to stay after dark.
    Magnesium bar fire starter (see above)
    Several water bottles
    Cable lock (there are places to stop along the Katy Trail, nice to not worry)
    Keys/wallet/cellphone
    Cycling gloves (99 cents, due to be replaced with good ones when they quit)
    micro pump/Co2 blaster (I can pump a tire, but in this weather, would be nice to do it in a few seconds)

    A question? What about slime tubes? They're heavier, as far as carrying them (I have one, the other spare is a plain one). I can see how they would be nice for an in-and-out puncture like a thorn, but there's not any thorns where I'm riding.
     
  8. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    Rocks, glass and sticks can also puncture a tire... Also bullets and arrows. Haha! They're not a bad idea unless you're racing. Better to be safe than sorry. If you wanted more protection, there's a plastic strip that fits between the tire and the tube. There's also thicker puncture resistant tires also. When I was a kid and biked to school, I had all of it because there were a lot of thorns. Only thing that popped my tire was a big stick that tore a hole on the side
     
  9. mostapha

    mostapha Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 26, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm gonna go ahead and chime in a few things.

    First, riding is a lot of fun.

    Second, I mostly do road, though I've done single track as well. Never free ride. And I am certainly an amateur, but I woudln't call it casual, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt.

    Giro and Lazer make the best helmets in my experience. You'll easily spend $100-300 on one, but I forget that they're there within a minute or two and ride in GA summer heat without problems. Keep in mind that the helmet protects your brain. It's not something to skimp on, and especially for a casual rider, I'd expect the helmet to cost more than the bike. Also, keep in mind that if you ever crash, you need to replace the helmet immediately. They do an amazing job of protecting your brain…once. After the first crash, they're just about worthless.

    Clipless pedals are a god send. Keep in mind that the second to last time I rode without clipless pedals was when I was 10. But I don't plan on doing it again. The last time, was the first time I rode single track (after a year or two on a road bike). A friend suggested I try it with platforms in case my reflexes weren't fast enough……I stood up to see what it felt like to sprint on a full suspension bike (in the parking lot), both of my feet slipped off the pedals, and I barely missed crushing my nuts on the top tube. I kept the bike up (barely) and rode back to the car……and when I twisted my heel off purely out of habit (the way you would with clipless pedals) we drove back to his house and put my road pedals on the mountain bike to go out for the day.

    I, for one, will never choose to ride without clipless pedals again. Especially for casual mountain riding, I recommend crank brothers egg beaters. They're awesome, straightforward, don't get clogged with mud, and really easy to use. They're great. And can be pretty cheap.

    If you're not going to do that, though, do not use toe clips. Those things are the work of the devil and will lead to accidents. Clipless or platforms. Period.

    Also, a good jersey is essential for riding in the heat. But also keep in mind that if it's really hot, you need a cool down period. Don't just stop. I got a mild case of hypothermia last summer…at 96 degrees…because I didn't cool down properly after riding a few loops on stone mountain. Don't be afraid of it. But be aware of your body and don't do anything too risky.

    Also, I get what you're going for, but single track is a lot of fun. "Jumping" a bike and hitting a vertical 6-foot climb half way up it and still making it to the crest feels awesome. Once you get a handle for the bike, I'd recommend giving single track a try if you're anything like an adrenaline junkie. It's incredibly fun.
     
  10. nanovapr

    nanovapr Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 15, 2011
    Catatonic State, USA
    Thanks for the info, mostapha. Helmets are like a good surge protector. If it takes a hit, it has expended it's life, time for a new one! I know about good wicking clothing, in this heat, I wear nylon/polypro, top and bottom. I haven't ventured into bibs yet, but I understand how it could be better. Again, I am just riding for fun. My trials bike days are long behind me (and that was a tiny 125cc Bultaco).

    I just spent 12 hours outdoors, with no AC. I am a musician, played an outdoor gig a few hours away. Back in the AC now! @ 3.30 am, but it's good for now.
     
  11. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    I think bibs/shorts are one of those "must not leave home" things I have. Especially on hot days... Can't express how much of a difference it is being able to get decent ventilation on my legs! If you feel like you're overheating while biking a lot, why not cool down where most of the heat is coming from? (biking is obviously a lot of leg work and since the blood flows there a lot, in my very unprofessional opinion, it would in turn help manage your body temperature!) since biking in my bib and jersey, I've noticed I don't sweat as much when I throw on some basketball shorts (if I expect to take breaks where there's a lot of people). Again, not needed, but you'd feel so much more comfortable! And if you feel like turning on your wife, stand up and stick your butt out! LoL! J/k! But honestly I do that when passing by some girls... Haha! But mountain mike shorts look different so I'm not sure of it's as ventilated as road bike shorts. Also, I suggest bibs over shorts, no need to adjust the waist line or untie when you have to use the bathroom/bush. And if you need to adjust anything, lift your jersey, adjust, and continue biking.

    Also, in your tool pouch, I'd suggest leaving a few dollar bills just in case you tear your tire, slip that between the tire and the tube to prevent pinch flats until you can fix it later.
     
  12. mostapha

    mostapha Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 26, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    They make stuff that squirts in the tube with sealant and, usually, propane. They work really well.

    Also, $20 stuffed inside your saddle bag or handlebars can help a lot if you get in trouble somehow.
     
  13. nanovapr

    nanovapr Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 15, 2011
    Catatonic State, USA
    I have new muscle groups hurting! Feeling guilty for not riding for so long, today after work I did a quick 7 miles in humid 120 degree heat index. I drank more water than usual all day to pre-hydrate. In my previous list of "don't leave home without it", I did not mention that I got some Canari shorts. I am not a fat guy by any means, but am too old to look like the Polish Cycle team:
    polish cycle team.jpg

    Outwardly they are baggy MTB shorts. Inwardly (is that a word?) they have polypro, with gel on the sitz. The new thing I bought to ride with today (this was a well-used Trek 4300, the seat was pretty squished, and torn) was a Planet Bikes Standard saddle. I don't need a long horn to keep the bike in control while getting air. In my heyday, I rode a single cylinder 490 cc 2-stroke with 12" of suspension travel in the back monoshock, and 18" in the front fork. I rode it pretty hard, On a good day, I could do the whoops properly on a motoX track. On a bad day, I still did not suicide! There was never any competition riding involved, just enough to scare myself. Many times. On the bicycle, I am cruising only.

    it-490.jpg

    The combination of the Canari shorts and the new seat were very good. That is ONE muscle group that feels better with the combination!

    I also rode for the first time with the toe-clips. mostapha, I will heed your warning, and not hit it hard standing up with them! I didn't tighten up the straps very hard, and made sure that I can slip my feet out easily. I am wearing Salomon trail shoes, they have a pretty stiff sole, that seems to help. I sort of tried to pull up with the other leg while mashing with the first, but it's a new co-ordination thing for me. The toeclips were superficially on the first use comforting to me. I am a n00b on bicycling, once I tried them with the shoes I would ride with, the ball of my feet had pretty good centering on the pedals.

    On my one break, I drank water and vaped. I got some strange looks from the other riders.
     
  14. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    A good pedaling technique is from 11 o'clock to 3 o'clock. It feels like normal riding with clipless pedals/shoes, with clips it's feel weird because you'd have to tighten the straps, or angle your foot in a weird way that would make you less efficient and might cause you to cramp. Also, that's pretty high temp, water might not be enough. Drop by a supplement store like GNC or a bike shop and ask what the'd suggest some packs of Gatorade, or something similar and something that's made for endurance stuff (1:4 ration of protein and carbs) I forgot which I've tried, but you should drink one before, during and after... I'd alternate between water and that drink during the ride because it gets my mouth and throat sticky (it's pretty sweet). I've ran out of it already and during my rides, i've almost cramped up and noticed I drink a lot more water.
     
  15. mostapha

    mostapha Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 26, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    That actually wasn't it. Toe clips, if they're not complete garbage, will help with that. I was talking about bare, flat platform pedals.

    Toe clips are terrifying because they just don't let go of your feet. Either you tighten them enough that you're permanently attached or they don't do anything.

    Clipless pedals are awesome, because they grip your feet almost as well and once you get used to the motion, they'll release you instantly……but only when you want them to.

    On that same mountain biking excursion, I got one of my wheels caught in a really deep rut in the trail on a moderately slow descent. I was never in real danger, but I couldn't get it out. All that happened once the bike started going down was that I stepped off. Never could have done that with toe clips.

    The only time I've ever fallen in traffic was the result of toe clips…the one time I rode with them…and all I did was to ride straight to a bike shop and buy clipless pedals and shoes.

    Seriously…toe clips scare the crap out of me.
     
  16. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    I don't think toe clips are recommended for mtn biking, however he mentioned his ride was pretty flat, and the fact that he'd have to buy 2 sets for himself and his wife and wanted to save some money. If you already have clips, and are fine with them, stick with them until you feel that urge to experience something else, very much like I do with everything including vaping. Lol started out with the pen style, talked it up to my friends (greatest thing ever! At the time...), then went for egos... Talked that up to my friends, and now I'm at a Provari waiting for some Darwin's to become available. And yeah, with cycling already knew I didn't want to buy cheap and upgrade slowly... Didn't have money or patients for that. I should have waited a bit though, soon I realized my bike setup isn't optimal for riding up hills, got a specialized allez '07 I think? It's a "double" and should have gotten a triple to make climbing steep roads easier.
     
  17. mostapha

    mostapha Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 26, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Triple cranks are sometimes necessary for mountain bikes, but they're never necessary for road……all that happens is you ride slower instead of getting stronger.
     
  18. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    No it definitely helps, the small gear helps with really steep inclines, and adjust the rear gears to something comfortable.

    There's a few roads near me that it's pretty steep, when I first got my bike, my brother's friend tool us on this "quick" ride up, and had to switch with him because I couldn't keep up. At that angle, the small gear helped me get to the top, then we switched again when we got to the top. We went down the other side which wasn't as steep, and got up to 35-38 mph according to my cyclometer. And I was occasionally pressing my brakes because I didn't want to fall.
     
  19. mostapha

    mostapha Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 26, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    My honest suggestion is to just get stronger/faster. If you need the triple, you need the triple. But when I did the math and realized that spinning at 100 RPM in the lowest gear on the triple I was considering was <3 mph, I ordered a compact crank, and I've never regretted it. I can't maintain balance that slow while climbing. It basically feels like doing a track stand…with your legs flying.

    The closest thing to a regret I've had was on a group ride, I was climbing out of the saddle in about my lowest gear and lifted my front wheel off the road…I couldn't straighten it before it came down and had to drop a foot to keep from going down myself, and I couldn't get the bike started moving again……but that hill also averages 27 percent.

    I'm absolutely not a great climber. The only way I can keep up with these group rides is because I don't mind hitting 45mph on a descent in traffic and everyone else I ride with is a chicken. But seriously think about how slow you're going to be going at a realistic cadence before you conclude that tiny cranks are easier. I love climbing at 100-120 RPM as much as anyone else who's watched lance race. But sometimes it's just not viable.
     
  20. LuV2SkRaTcH

    LuV2SkRaTcH Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    May 17, 2012
    Mountain House, CA
    Yeah, I'm the kind of guy to work with what I got... But for a new person, I would have liked a triple in the beginning and work up to a compact. But I've been avoiding steep inclines since then, hopefully the next time I try an incline, it won't be as grueling as the last when I tried that last road. It was summer but for some reason, I was wearing long sleeves and a backpack/camelback. LoL! I definitely learnedly lesson on that ride... I think my bike wasn't fitted very well that time. It may have been my backpack or just a short stem on my handle bars, and the lack of knowledge on pedaling, and body positioning. But I remember my elbows and knees were killing me te next day. I was pissed at my friend because at the time, I had a very labor intensive job. And hurting elbows and knees almost got me hurt at work (sheet of metal slipped out of my hand and had to use my steel toes to catch it, lol).
     
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