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Thread: Cycling Advice

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC

    Cycling Advice

    So I was just reading BostonDevil's thread (go BD! 26.2!!) and realized that I signed up for a charity bike ride last week and this would be a good forum for advice.

    I am cycling 64 miles on July 13, and am starting from an embarrassing fitness level. I ran the London Marathon three years ago, but haven't done any exercise in the last 18 months. My first tentative bike ride was this weekend - and it was hard. A trip that was a good warm-up two years ago knocked me over. I have never biked more than 15 or so miles in a trip, so I am a little bit concerned about the distance.

    Any advice from the board? Training regimen, hardware options (I currently have a 10 year-old Mountain Bike), tactics for the day of, fund raising schemes? - any help would be great.

    Exiled
    Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    So I was just reading BostonDevil's thread (go BD! 26.2!!) and realized that I signed up for a charity bike ride last week and this would be a good forum for advice.

    I am cycling 64 miles on July 13, and am starting from an embarrassing fitness level. I ran the London Marathon three years ago, but haven't done any exercise in the last 18 months. My first tentative bike ride was this weekend - and it was hard. A trip that was a good warm-up two years ago knocked me over. I have never biked more than 15 or so miles in a trip, so I am a little bit concerned about the distance.

    Any advice from the board? Training regimen, hardware options (I currently have a 10 year-old Mountain Bike), tactics for the day of, fund raising schemes? - any help would be great.

    Exiled
    First, don't think of the ride as 64 miles. It's really only as long as the distance between rest stops. You just have to ride more than one.

    Second, you need to spend more time on the bike. 15 miles isn't really a long distance considering that your overall ride is 4x longer. You can liken it to your marathon training, 6 mile runs wouldn't cut it. That being said I think you can use your marathon training as a base for your cycling training. Just scale up your distances. A good resource for longer rides is your local cycling club. If you're in the Durham area, I can point you to a number of links. My advice would be to get on your bike everyday even if it means you cycle 2 miles in the morning to get a newspaper. Then try to supplement those rides with longer rides at least twice a week, once during the middle of the week and once during the weekend. Tailor your energy expenditure to match your distance. For shorter rides you may want to go much harder than longer rides. Allow some time for warm-ups and cool-downs.

    Third, I think you need to learn to rest on the bike. Find a club ride, grab a cue sheet, and ride with the fastest group you can for as long as you can. When you get dropped, spend the rest of the ride pedaling but recovering your legs. When they feel OK, attack the next hill and see how long you can keep it up. Rest, attack, rest, attack, until you're exhausted, then finish the ride at your recovery speed.

    Fourth, you need to think about your equipment. While a number of people will tell you to get a road bike, I think that's an unnecessary expense. I would start by getting road tires for my mountain bike. That alone will decrease the amount of energy you expend. Next, think about cycling clothes. I'm a big fan of having a jersey, simply for the pockets. You can find cheap ones on the web. And for your bottom, you need to think about your saddle/shorts. It's a bit counter-intuitive but a harder seat is better for longer rides. Softer seats tend to move a bit and can lead to chafing. Unfortunately, the harder seats take a bit of getting used to which is why cyclist go for padded shorts. If you're looking to get away cheaply, try padded underwear and wear some sort of compression short over top.

    Finally, there's a mental aspect to longer rides that you need to address. The bike can be mind-numbing at times so you need something to help. I used to leave the start of charity rides near the very back. Then I used riders up the road as motivation to keep going. Nowadays I simply ride with friends who are closer to my speed. Either way a distraction is a good thing. Avoid portable music, it can prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic.

    As I think of other things I repost, but I think that getting on the bike frequently is the key. Don't expect your fitness to come back all at once. And as you get more fit you may find that your mountain bike doesn't have the gearing you need. Only then would I think about an entry level road bike.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    So I was just reading BostonDevil's thread (go BD! 26.2!!) and realized that I signed up for a charity bike ride last week and this would be a good forum for advice.
    There's also another thread that deals with cycling advice:
    http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/...hlight=cycling

    Cheers,
    Lavabe

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    So I went to REI and test-road some bikes today. Two questions: what are people's opinions on drop-bars vs straight handlebars? Also, is Novara a legitimate brand? It's REI's house brand - does it generally measure up to K2, Marin, Schwinn, Performance, etc?
    Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    So I went to REI and test-road some bikes today. Two questions: what are people's opinions on drop-bars vs straight handlebars? Also, is Novara a legitimate brand? It's REI's house brand - does it generally measure up to K2, Marin, Schwinn, Performance, etc?
    A bike is a bike. The important thing for you will be the fit. Are you comfortable on the bike? In other words could you sit on the bike for a couple hours without feeling like you want to throw the bike against the wall. Don't sweat the name. Besides all the brands you named are entry level bikes and are essentially the same. The price points are a good indication of how "good" the bike is.

    As far as handle-bars are concerned, you need to decide what type of riding you're going to do. Straight bars are good if you expect to sit upright most of the time, i.e. commuting, errands, etc. Drop bars are better for longer distances. They force you to lean over a bit more and offer better aerodynamics. If you're planning on using your charity ride as a spring board to a recreational/exercise type of riding I would go with the drop-bars.

    Since it looks like you're thinking about a new bike, don't spend a ton of money on it. Use the new bike to decide if you like it and then upgrade. I would suggest you get either a 9-speed of a 10-speed bike, then if you decide to upgrade you can simply buy the frame and move your components over. It will be cheaper in the long run. And if you're mechanically inclined you can use it as a way to learn how to work on your bike. If you don't want to deal with that hassle then get the cheapest entry level bike that fits, and when you upgrade you'll have a spare when your "good" bike is in the shop.
    Last edited by hughgs; 04-20-2008 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Clarification

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by hughgs View Post
    A bike is a bike. The important thing for you will be the fit. Are you comfortable on the bike? In other words could you sit on the bike for a couple hours without feeling like you want to throw the bike against the wall. Don't sweat the name. Besides all the brands you named are entry level bikes and are essentially the same. The price points are a good indication of how "good" the bike is.

    As far as handle-bars are concerned, you need to decide what type of riding you're going to do. Straight bars are good if you expect to sit upright most of the time, i.e. commuting, errands, etc. Drop bars are better for longer distances. They force you to lean over a bit more and offer better aerodynamics. If you're planning on using your charity ride as a spring board to a recreational/exercise type of riding I would go with the drop-bars.

    Since it looks like you're thinking about a new bike, don't spend a ton of money on it. Use the new bike to decide if you like it and then upgrade. I would suggest you get either a 9-speed of a 10-speed bike, then if you decide to upgrade you can simply buy the frame and move your components over. It will be cheaper in the long run. And if you're mechanically inclined you can use it as a way to learn how to work on your bike. If you don't want to deal with that hassle then get the cheapest entry level bike that fits, and when you upgrade you'll have a spare when your "good" bike is in the shop.
    Thanks. I do think that the training will segue into more regular cycling. I don't know if I will ever get to into the six-figure bike category. I have another hobby that entails occasional big-money upgrades - sea kayaking. I try to not have more than one expensive hobby at a time. I do plan on cycling more afterwards, but I don't think that I will be upgrading for a few years.
    Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    Thanks. I do think that the training will segue into more regular cycling. I don't know if I will ever get to into the six-figure bike category. I have another hobby that entails occasional big-money upgrades - sea kayaking. I try to not have more than one expensive hobby at a time. I do plan on cycling more afterwards, but I don't think that I will be upgrading for a few years.
    You can find exceptional bikes for less than $2000 but I do agree that one expense hobby is enough. The best part about cycling is that once you get past the up-front costs involved with the bicycle the recurring costs are pretty cheap, assuming you don't have to travel very far to get to rides and such. Probably the same as sea kayaking. If you live close enough to ocean and own a sea kayak the recurring costs are probably pretty cheap.

    Anyway, since you're not planning on upgrading for a few years I think the cheapest route would be to decide if you will do most of the maintenance on your bike yourself. If so, then I would go with a 9-speed set-up. In the future, there will be plenty of 9-speed components that you can buy and install yourself. If you decide to let a bike shop handle your repairs it's probably easier to go the 10-speed route since the bike shops will have an easier time getting components. Finally, if you think you'll probably go the 2 bike route get the cheapest bike that fits. As you learn what you love and hate about the bike you'll find out what your second bike needs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Rented a drop-bar road bike this weekend - just didn't work for me. I had three issues - the narrow hand position was awkward, the line of sight when I was low was too short for me, and my belly got in the way when I went to the lower position. The last wasn't the bike's fault (and hoefully will change as I bike more), but the first two combined for an unpleasant couple of rides this weekend.

    So I know I like flat bar - refitting my Mt bike might work< but I have found that I really like new deraillers a lot. My bike's gears are old and a pain - I don't think a tune-up will help. So I think I am going to look at inexpensive (<$1000) flat bar road bike.

    And the advice on the shorts - I didn't take them. Got baggeis with a lining, which was too baggy itself. Ouch. Just ouch.

    Edit: I found mapmyride.com - excellent resource! Helped find and calculate nice rides out my front door.
    Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    Rented a drop-bar road bike this weekend - just didn't work for me. I had three issues - the narrow hand position was awkward, the line of sight when I was low was too short for me, and my belly got in the way when I went to the lower position. The last wasn't the bike's fault (and hoefully will change as I bike more), but the first two combined for an unpleasant couple of rides this weekend.

    So I know I like flat bar - refitting my Mt bike might work< but I have found that I really like new deraillers a lot. My bike's gears are old and a pain - I don't think a tune-up will help. So I think I am going to look at inexpensive (<$1000) flat bar road bike.

    And the advice on the shorts - I didn't take them. Got baggeis with a lining, which was too baggy itself. Ouch. Just ouch.

    Edit: I found mapmyride.com - excellent resource! Helped find and calculate nice rides out my front door.
    Drop bars are over-rated. I have drop bars on all my bikes and NEVER use the drops. My hands are on the brake hoods the entire time. It puts you in a slightly lower position than the flat bars but don't wrench your back. They also allow you to see the road. Your hands should end up shoulder width apart. Take a test spin and see if that works better.

    I'm not familiar with "baggies", but the part against your bottom needs to fit snugly. And no underwear. Loose fitting chamois or underwear will create pinch points, which definitely hurt.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by hughgs View Post
    Drop bars are over-rated. I have drop bars on all my bikes and NEVER use the drops. My hands are on the brake hoods the entire time. It puts you in a slightly lower position than the flat bars but don't wrench your back. They also allow you to see the road. Your hands should end up shoulder width apart. Take a test spin and see if that works better.

    I'm not familiar with "baggies", but the part against your bottom needs to fit snugly. And no underwear. Loose fitting chamois or underwear will create pinch points, which definitely hurt.
    Yup, that was exactly how I rode most of the time - up on the brake hoods. Did a 12 mile ride like that yesterday and just didn't like it.

    The baggies are a pair of normal shorts with bike short liners. My liner was too big - which is not fun.
    Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    Yup, that was exactly how I rode most of the time - up on the brake hoods. Did a 12 mile ride like that yesterday and just didn't like it.

    The baggies are a pair of normal shorts with bike short liners. My liner was too big - which is not fun.
    Ah, I was afraid you were down on the drops. I always see beginners riding like that and my back hurts just thinking about it. I like my back around 45 degrees or even less when riding. I'm old and my back complains a lot.

    Good luck with the shorts. I did the cycling underwear for quite a while before I finally succumbed.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Quote Originally Posted by Exiled_Devil View Post
    Any advice from the board?
    I did an MS 150 a few years ago and the thing that helped me the most was discovering during a 60 mile training session that my saddle severely hurt after about 40 miles. I switched to one of those cutaway models and it made every bit of difference. This is, of course, completely subjective. I guess my advice is to ride a long enough training ride that you're sure that won't be a problem.

  13. #13

    Cycling Advice

    I have run in 3 triathlons over the years, so I have spent 100's of hours in the saddle. My first one was about 20 years ago, and I bought what was then considered a 'top end' bike for my first race.

    Like almost everything else in the world A LOT has changed since I purchased that bike. Last summer I wanted to get back in cycling as part of my workout routine, but decided to switch gears (pun intended) and go with a mountain bike since I live in the foothills of central CA right next to the Sierras.

    More gears, better brakes, better all around components, and a better frame, even though this bike was a lot less money than my old road bike.

    I would suggest you look at a Trek mtn bike. I got the 3700, which set me back about $300, with life time adjustments and lubes from my local bike shop included in the price. Its a great bike.

    I did have them change the tires to a Specialized road slick, since I was going to be doing most of my workouts on the road. This gives me a feel much closer to a road bike, however, I have upright (flat) handlebars, with several more gears for the steep stuff.

    Lastly, from my days training for triathlons, I always ride with a 'speedo' under my bike shorts. Added padding in the right spots, and helps to keep the uh, equipment up out of the way.

    Let me know if you need/want any other info.

    Have a great ride !

    lj

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by littlejohn View Post
    I have run in 3 triathlons over the years, so I have spent 100's of hours in the saddle. My first one was about 20 years ago, and I bought what was then considered a 'top end' bike for my first race.

    Like almost everything else in the world A LOT has changed since I purchased that bike. Last summer I wanted to get back in cycling as part of my workout routine, but decided to switch gears (pun intended) and go with a mountain bike since I live in the foothills of central CA right next to the Sierras.

    More gears, better brakes, better all around components, and a better frame, even though this bike was a lot less money than my old road bike.

    I would suggest you look at a Trek mtn bike. I got the 3700, which set me back about $300, with life time adjustments and lubes from my local bike shop included in the price. Its a great bike.

    I did have them change the tires to a Specialized road slick, since I was going to be doing most of my workouts on the road. This gives me a feel much closer to a road bike, however, I have upright (flat) handlebars, with several more gears for the steep stuff.

    Lastly, from my days training for triathlons, I always ride with a 'speedo' under my bike shorts. Added padding in the right spots, and helps to keep the uh, equipment up out of the way.

    Let me know if you need/want any other info.

    Have a great ride !

    lj
    Pretty good advice. The only thing I would add is that wearing strictly a Speedo will take a little more time to get used to than padded underwear. It's simply a matter of what you're willing to put up with. For example, I don't use gloves. Takes me a little longer in the spring to get used to the rubbing but then I don't have to worry about forgetting them. As an intermediate solution you can find chamois in different thicknesses. So, you can go with something minimal.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by littlejohn View Post
    I have run in 3 triathlons over the years, so I have spent 100's of hours in the saddle. My first one was about 20 years ago, and I bought what was then considered a 'top end' bike for my first race.

    Like almost everything else in the world A LOT has changed since I purchased that bike. Last summer I wanted to get back in cycling as part of my workout routine, but decided to switch gears (pun intended) and go with a mountain bike since I live in the foothills of central CA right next to the Sierras.

    More gears, better brakes, better all around components, and a better frame, even though this bike was a lot less money than my old road bike.

    I would suggest you look at a Trek mtn bike. I got the 3700, which set me back about $300, with life time adjustments and lubes from my local bike shop included in the price. Its a great bike.

    I did have them change the tires to a Specialized road slick, since I was going to be doing most of my workouts on the road. This gives me a feel much closer to a road bike, however, I have upright (flat) handlebars, with several more gears for the steep stuff.

    Lastly, from my days training for triathlons, I always ride with a 'speedo' under my bike shorts. Added padding in the right spots, and helps to keep the uh, equipment up out of the way.

    Let me know if you need/want any other info.

    Have a great ride !

    lj
    Thanks for the insight - after my test ride this weekend, I am certainly inclined to have more gears. I don't likey the big gears for hill climbing.
    Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard

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