Beginner Cyclist Questions ....

To break up the monotony of my 3mi walks, I picked up a hybrid road/off-road bike from a local bike shop that fits my size. I've been at it for about 2 weeks now. I am hoping I can get some advice on.

Details:
Keep in mind, at the moment I am looking at weight loss and some endurance. I am not training for a triathlon, etc. I'm also in 2nd gear on my front and 3rd gear on my back for most of the time. My total round trip is about 10mi in 55min.

Odd ball questions:

1. I notice my front tire is solid, very little give on the "road" where the shape of the tire holds instead of spreading out on contact with the street. Just today, I noticed my back tire does "give" and spread out a decent bit. If I get off and try to press the tire in with my palm, I can't - but when I put my fat *kitten* on that bike it flattens out some. Is it supposed to, or do I need to put air in every week or so?

2. My morning ride is hilly. I have one really obnoxious hill that is my arch enemy, but other than that I could ride 2-3 miles over gentle hills that cause my legs to pump on and off for the most part, but the ride back is almost a 2-3 mi coast. I hit another section which is very similar. At first I thought, "I can't be getting anything out of this - I end up coasting for a solid 50% of this ride". But then thought, "Well this is more like HIIT training, where I work hard for a bit, coast, work hard for a bit, coast...)". What is your assessment of this - am I getting anything out of the ride, or would it be more effective to try to find a flat loop somewhere that I can just pump my legs most of the time.

3. What the heck do you wear in the fall when it is chilly at 6:30-7am in the morning? I'm in shorts and a wicking shirt now. But with the wind and cold, how do you prepare come fall?

4. I notice a lot of weight on my palms and hands and that my seat is slightly higher than my handle bars. Is this a sign I need to lower by seat slightly?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Replies

  • wildtxn
    wildtxn Posts: 97 Member
    your tires most likely are just do to the way your weight sits on the bike and should be fine. I run right at 100psi on my road bike and my back gives a bit more than my front when I'm on it as well. You may be able to run a few extra lb in there without any problem if it's flattening out enough to notice a difference in your ride.

    If you're focusing on pushing quite a bit in the hills, you may be fine coasting but you probably would get more if you were pushing consistently if you have a place to do so. Hills are great for building your ability to tackle more though.

    There's tons of cold weather gear for riding in the winter, leggings, booties that cover your shoes, face masks, etc. go support your local bike shop somewhere, they should have plenty of options in stock.

    my seat is higher than my handlebars as well, but if it's enough that your hands go numb or if you are using clips, I would highly suggest getting a proper bike fitment, will alleviate quite a bit of that.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    I'm also in 2nd gear on my front and 3rd gear on my back for most of the time.

    ...

    I have one really obnoxious hill that is my arch enemy

    Use your gears! That's why they're there. They make hills easier, and flats too. Shift a lot and it'll become second nature soon to be in the right gear for the terrain you're riding.
  • Pie319
    Pie319 Posts: 129 Member
    Good answers above, but I'll add, if you lower your seat too much, you can stress out your knees. Since you're not doing 100 mile rides, you probably don't need a professional bike fit (they are expensive). But your bike shop should be able to give you some free guidance.

    The quick way I learned for seat height:
    Sit on bike seat with pedal pointing straight down. Put your heal on the pedal. you should be able to touch the pedal with your heal and a straight leg. if your leg is bent when your heal is on it - raise the seat. if you can't reach with your heal, lower the seat. That way when you're on the ball of your foot, your knee has a slight bend.

    It's a good starting point and you can adjust from there.
  • faidwen
    faidwen Posts: 131 Member
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Cycling is wonderful!!!

    I started out 1 year ago not being able to bike around the block. Now I bike 50 km / day at a minimum and thoroughly love it. I've also gone from 310 lbs to 160 lbs in that time.

    I find that you have to add air, and keep the tire as firm as possible. You will have to add it once in awhile. Also, be prepared to eventually get flats, and know how to change the inner tube, it happens.

    Bike shorts will become your best friend!!! HONESTLY!!! And with that, when it gets colder, longer tights etc. When I started I looked at people wearing gear like that and laughed. NOW, I wouldn't be without it.

    GLOVES are also your friend! Buy some cheap ones to start.

    ALWAYS peddle. Unless you are exhausted. Don't forget to gear down, or up. When I started I did my rides CONSTANTLY shifting. Now I do the entire ride (hills and everything) in the top gear. I also now stand and push hard when going up hills, I NEVER did that in the beginning.

    It will get easier, you will get faster, and it will become even MORE fun!!! + there are bunnies!!

    I don't like to lean over toooooo much when riding, so I bought a front handlebar extension / lift and raised my handlebars. Legs are pretty much fully extended when pedals are completely down. Proper fit is IMPORTANT!!! And cannot be stressed enough. Check the interwebz for best practice, and ADJUST ADJUST ADJUST!!!!

    Most of all, have FUN!!! And try and join a group, or have your significant other join you!!
  • 35dollars
    35dollars Posts: 828 Member
    3. What the heck do you wear in the fall when it is chilly at 6:30-7am in the morning? I'm in shorts and a wicking shirt now. But with the wind and cold, how do you prepare come fall?

    Layers are your friends, though you have to balance out the cold start against warmer feel as you build up some exercise. Have a look at arm and leg warmers - you can start out with arms and legs covered and then strip them off rapidly as you heat up. A windproof gilet is a good investment, as it a lightweight packable rain coat.

  • gobonas99
    gobonas99 Posts: 1,051 Member
    edited August 2016
    1 - I check my tire pressure before every ride. Higher pressure is generally better because that means less rolling resistance, unless your in conditions where you WANT more grip (ie wet roads, sand, snow, etc). For my road bike, I usually run between 100-115 psi, depending on conditions (less psi if the road is wet, etc). For my hybrid, I usually run between 85-100 psi (again depending on conditions. For my fat bike, I run 12-15 psi if I riding on the road or hard packed (but smooth) trail....I'll drop to 5-8 psi if I'm riding on loose dirt, sand, or snow. Check your recommended max psi for the tires on your bike and use about 20% less (again, depending on conditions). Your rear tire will "smoosh" more because you have more weight on it, but the unweighted psi is the important part. :smile:

    2 - While some coasting is good, I try to maintain a consistent cadence throughout 90% of my rides - that means I am CONSTANTLY pedaling at roughly the same rate, both up and down hills. In order to do that, you NEED to shift. There is a bit of a learning curve before you get the hang of it, but you will eventually. Going uphill, you will want to shift into the bigger cogs in the rear (easier), and the smaller chainring in the front. Going downhill, you will want to shift into the smaller cogs in the rear (harder) and the bigger chainring in the front. Try not to cross gears (ie don't be in your small chainring and your smallest cog, and don't be in your big chainring and your biggest cog - that can mess up your chain and your derailleurs). Basically, going uphill, as you find your cadence start to drop, shift to a bigger cog to make it easier to pedal....going downhill, as you find you lose resistance in the pedals, shift to a smaller cog until you get that resistance back, so your pedal stroke is actually doing something. When I started riding, I rarely shifted....now, I am almost constantly shifting throughout my ride. :smile:

    3 - to ride when the temps start to drop, you simply need to dress for the conditions. As the weather gets cooler, I'll start wearing socks (I go sockless all summer), and I switch from my more "open" tri bike shoes to my warmer road bike shoes. I'll wear arm warmers. I'll wear gloves. I have long sleeved jerseys and tights....I have a water resistant wind jacket for when it is windy (and rainy). I have a headband that covers my ears. As the weather starts REALLY getting cold (or even if it's a "warmer" day, but I'm fatbiking in a foot of snow), I will layer up, wear a balaclava under my helmet (covers your head, face and neck), and I will wear snowmobile/skiing goggles. I have booties to cover my shoes that helps guard against the cold and heavier winter riding gloves. I can honestly say that outside of my toes getting a little chilly on longer fatbike rides in Jan and Feb, I am rarely cold after the first 5 minutes or so. :smile:

    4 - My saddle is higher than my handlebars on all of my bikes. Many people ride with their saddles too low, which can actually cause knee problems (especially if you are using clipless pedals or cages). When you are in the saddle, you should have just a very slight bend in the knee of your extended leg (when the pedal is closest to the ground). You should NOT be able to touch the ground with your toe when you are actually in the saddle. You should need to come off the saddle to put your foot on the ground. General rule of thumb is that if you are standing next to your bike, your saddle should hit at the top of your hip bone. Your handlebars may need to be adjusted up a little to take some pressure off your hands, but a lot of that pressure can be relieved simply by engaging your core - you shouldn't have a "death grip" on the handlebars...your hands should "float" on them. I highly recommend having a bike fit done with a certified bike fitter at your local bike shop (for a hybrid, the kind of fit I'm talking about should take between 1-2 hours). :smile:

    I hope that is helpful :smile:
  • dkabambe
    dkabambe Posts: 543 Member
    Congrats on taking up cycling. Looks like all your questions have been answered already, but I'll reiterate a couple of points as they are common amongst beginners.
    1) Use your gears - Aim for a cadence of at least 60rpm if you can do that comfortably (Legs go round at least once per second) and preferably around 90rpm if you can (3 times every 2 seconds).
    2) Set your saddle at the right height - many people have saddle too low risking knee injury, (and making cycling less efficient). From what you describe sounds like you need to raise handlebars rather than lower saddle. @Pie319 has great tip above for right saddle height.

    All the best.
  • scorpio516
    scorpio516 Posts: 955 Member
    3. What the heck do you wear in the fall when it is chilly at 6:30-7am in the morning? I'm in shorts and a wicking shirt now. But with the wind and cold, how do you prepare come fall?

    I used to commute year round. Sure, in northern California, but most the winter there my mornings were either rainy or frosty :smiley:

    Short sleeve jersey + arm warmers. Lycra shorts
    Long sleeve jersey
    Tights either over shorts or padded.
    Biggest thing : ear warmer! Headband is the most important thing for me, my ears freeze! Then decent gloves.
    Chilly, MTB full finger gloves might be fine. Cold, insulated biking gloves are better. Frigid, lobster gloves are best!

    You might have noticed it now, but one reason everyone wears jerseys all the time is cause the back is longer than the front. When your leaned over, the long back covers your lower back. That and the pockets

  • SingingSingleTracker
    SingingSingleTracker Posts: 1,866 Member
    edited August 2016
    To break up the monotony of my 3mi walks, I picked up a hybrid road/off-road bike from a local bike shop that fits my size. I've been at it for about 2 weeks now. I am hoping I can get some advice on.

    Details:
    Keep in mind, at the moment I am looking at weight loss and some endurance. I am not training for a triathlon, etc. I'm also in 2nd gear on my front and 3rd gear on my back for most of the time. My total round trip is about 10mi in 55min.

    Odd ball questions:

    1. I notice my front tire is solid, very little give on the "road" where the shape of the tire holds instead of spreading out on contact with the street. Just today, I noticed my back tire does "give" and spread out a decent bit. If I get off and try to press the tire in with my palm, I can't - but when I put my fat *kitten* on that bike it flattens out some. Is it supposed to, or do I need to put air in every week or so?

    Get a good tire gauge and pump that you can trust. The more psi or bar, the "harder" the tire will ride. The less psi or bar, and the more "suspension" your tire will give you and deflect the rough spots in the road. Suspension is good to help absorb the cracks and bumps you hit. Go too low, and you risk puncturing your tube (pinch flat) on a bump as well as tire squirm. Go too high, and you risk loss of control, loss of traction, a harsh ride, poorer protection from road debris (in other words - more chance of getting a puncture) and even the risk of popping a tube from rim/brake pad heat on long and severe descents (think riding in the mountains). Typically, one runs 5-10 psi in the front tire compared to the rear on a road bike, maybe 2-4 psi difference on a mountain bike. You mention hybrid/off-road, so I'm not sure what size tires you have. Off-road to me is a mountain bike that has a 1.8" to 2" or wider tire. Those tires require a lot less air. On an off road tire for mountain biking, the rule of thumb is your weight divided by 7. Add one psi to that for the rear, subtract one psi for the front. So for me, at 166 pounds, that means my rear tire is around 24 psi, and my front is around 22 psi as a starting point.

    Experiment as you'll find your sweet spot.

    3. My morning ride is hilly. I have one really obnoxious hill that is my arch enemy, but other than that I could ride 2-3 miles over gentle hills that cause my legs to pump on and off for the most part, but the ride back is almost a 2-3 mi coast. I hit another section which is very similar. At first I thought, "I can't be getting anything out of this - I end up coasting for a solid 50% of this ride". But then thought, "Well this is more like HIIT training, where I work hard for a bit, coast, work hard for a bit, coast...)". What is your assessment of this - am I getting anything out of the ride, or would it be more effective to try to find a flat loop somewhere that I can just pump my legs most of the time.

    Ride it differently every time so you can take advantage of HIIT on some days, and a more relaxed effort on others using the gears. There is no rule of thumb. Singlespeeders can work a cadence with their one gear from 30 rpm to 130 rpm and certainly are not suffering any consequences when they ride on pavement, gravel or dirt. Some of us live and ride in hilly terrain that means there are times when pedaling is pointless as the descent is so steep it is pointless - sometimes impossible to pedal.

    4. What the heck do you wear in the fall when it is chilly at 6:30-7am in the morning? I'm in shorts and a wicking shirt now. But with the wind and cold, how do you prepare come fall?

    The cycling industry has clothing for all types of weather. Many of us ride year round and the only difference is what we wear. Layers, arm/leg/knee warmers, all the way to multiple layers designed to allow us to ride in 0 - 25 degree temperatures. If you have a pack or a basket or bag on your bike, you can shed the layers you don't need if you start to overheat.


    5. I notice a lot of weight on my palms and hands and that my seat is slightly higher than my handle bars. Is this a sign I need to lower by seat slightly?

    Seat height is designed to get proper leg extension. Don't lower your seat based on your bars. Bars can be made to go higher or lower with a quick plumbing change (stem, spacers, bar sweep/angle). There are various types of "fit" all the way from having bars higher than your saddle, to bars level, to bars a little bit lower, to bars a lot lower. Depends on your body, flexibility, and comfort level. Not everyone needs a race bike fit with bars lower than the saddle which puts one in a more aggressive riding position. And not everyone needs the bars higher than the saddle to have the old lady going to the grocery store riding position. Again, experiment as the body adapts and adjusts to all of it rather quickly. Google French Fit, Eddy Fit, Competitive Fit, etc. They all exist as does everything between them all.

  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,125 Member
    To break up the monotony of my 3mi walks, I picked up a hybrid road/off-road bike from a local bike shop that fits my size. I've been at it for about 2 weeks now. I am hoping I can get some advice on.

    Come join the Bicycle Challenge ...

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10436619/august-2016-biking-cycling-bicycling-challenge#latest


    As for your questions:

    -- hills are like interval training.

    -- get the saddle height right first, then adjust the handlebars to suit. If your saddle height isn't right, you're setting yourself up for all sorts of issues ... knees, ankles, hips ...

  • UmmSqueaky
    UmmSqueaky Posts: 715 Member
    edited August 2016
    Yaaay biking! Welcome!

    I'll speak to your "what do I wear??" question. I'm a year round cyclist living in Minnesota who will bike any day the roads aren't glare ice or covered in a foot of snow and the windchill isn't 50 below 0. The key is layering and keep it flexible. Between temperature and wind I have a half a dozen different cold configurations. You'll overdress at first, and then figure out what works for you in what conditions. You're cold for the first mile or two, then will warm up. If you're warm when you leave the house you'll be roasting in short order. I'd look for a windproof jacket (maybe windproof pants but that might be overkill down south), a good pair of gloves and something to cover your ears. What goes on underneath all of that depends on the temperature and doesn't need to be fancy/technical.

    I really like my showerpass jacket for the windproof top layer. It's got good venting for when it's the top end of cold, and has taken quite a few beatings when I've slid on ice and taken a dive across the pavement.
  • lodro
    lodro Posts: 982 Member
    edited August 2016
    1. I notice my front tire is solid, very little give on the "road" where the shape of the tire holds instead of spreading out on contact with the street. Just today, I noticed my back tire does "give" and spread out a decent bit. If I get off and try to press the tire in with my palm, I can't - but when I put my fat *kitten* on that bike it flattens out some. Is it supposed to, or do I need to put air in every week or so?

    >>> look at your tires to see what the recommended pressure is and pump your tires up to that, minus about 10%.

    3. My morning ride is hilly. I have one really obnoxious hill that is my arch enemy, but other than that I could ride 2-3 miles over gentle hills that cause my legs to pump on and off for the most part, but the ride back is almost a 2-3 mi coast. I hit another section which is very similar. At first I thought, "I can't be getting anything out of this - I end up coasting for a solid 50% of this ride". But then thought, "Well this is more like HIIT training, where I work hard for a bit, coast, work hard for a bit, coast...)". What is your assessment of this - am I getting anything out of the ride, or would it be more effective to try to find a flat loop somewhere that I can just pump my legs most of the time.

    >>>does your bike have gears? do you know how to use them? cycling is all about cadence. Spinning will get you further than applying power to your cycling stroke. Also this will prevent (knee) injuries.

    4. What the heck do you wear in the fall when it is chilly at 6:30-7am in the morning? I'm in shorts and a wicking shirt now. But with the wind and cold, how do you prepare come fall?

    >>> if you're seriously going to pursue this, read up a little at cycling websites, or look at a couple of videos on yt to see how riders are dressing in diverse conditions

    4. I notice a lot of weight on my palms and hands and that my seat is slightly higher than my handle bars. Is this a sign I need to lower by seat slightly?

    >>>your seat height is determined by biomechanics, roughly, the position of your hip over your knee over your foot on the pedal. Seat height can be calculated and measured: there are good yt videos on this and you can do the adjustments yourself. Also note that your saddle can move backwards and forwards a little to give you a more optimal position in relation to the pedals. The leaning forward gives you optimum control over your bike, but you can also buy stems and spacers that get your handlebars higher. Good posture on the bike depends largely on core strength.