Cycling, bikes, indoor, outdoor etc.

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Replies

  • Calliope610
    Calliope610 Posts: 3,769 Member
    edited June 2018
    At 52 years of age, I got a hand-me-down Trek hybrid. I was challenged by my brothers to participate in the BP MS150 - a 150 mile, 2-day charity ride. I hadn't ridden a bike in 35 years or so. I trained for about 3-4 months and completed the ride. I found a new passion.

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    A couple of months later I had knee surgery and it has taken me a while (2 1/2 years :( ) to get back in the saddle consistently. I'm back to 2-3 rides during the work week about 10-12miles each. I hope to increase my rides to 20miles and 30-40miles on the weekend.
  • aokoye
    aokoye Posts: 3,495 Member
    awinner_au wrote: »
    Id like to try Zwift, but not knowing whether id stick with it makes me reluctant to stump up for a smart trainer. Haven't found a studio nearby that lets you try Zwift.

    I'm assuming you looked on Zwift's website for dealers (bike shops) that allow you to try it on a smart trainer, as opposed to a studio. If not the link to that information is here. I agree with @Ardael though - all you need is a not smart trainer and a speed sensor that either transmits bluetooth and/or ANT+ (assuming you have an ANT+ dongle). It won't be, as all around of an experience but it will definitely give you a good idea of what it's like.

    Also if you're connecting through bluetooth on on iOS device you don't need an ANT+ dongle.
  • mjbnj0001
    mjbnj0001 Posts: 994 Member
    At 52 years of age, I got a hand-me-down Trek hybrid. I was challenged by my brothers to participate in the BP MS150 - a 150 mile, 2-day charity ride. I hadn't ridden a bike in 35 years or so. I trained for about 3-4 months and completed the ride. I found a new passion.

    Good for you!

    A couple of months later I had knee surgery and it has taken me a while (2 1/2 years :( ) to get back in the saddle consistently. I'm back to 2-3 rides during the work week about 10-12miles each. I hope to increase my rides to 20miles and 30-40miles on the weekend.

    More good for you!

    I'm trying a similar schedule. After being off the bike for 30+ yrs, I got inspired last summer, promptly crashed due to my own error (long story), was laid up until Christmas, then got a new bike (as also a retirement gift from the family). Pedaling back into a healthy state is my "retirement job" this year. My written New Year's resolutions included 750+ miles ridden and 25lbs lost. I'm on track to exceed the 750, and this week I'm 28lbs lighter. Every pound is a struggle, but I'm shooting for another 15 by Thanksgiving.

    Best of luck to you!

    BTW, I'm following on youtube a guy in the UK, an older, overweight cyclist, who is training for a Mallorca cycling trip later this year (it's got a lot of hill challenges). He's struggling with time, commitments, and more in a gradual training rampup that resonates with my own struggles. Latest vid is here ...





  • mjbnj0001
    mjbnj0001 Posts: 994 Member
    I pretty excited about my new ride. Picked it up today.

    Nice!
  • BusyRaeNOTBusty
    BusyRaeNOTBusty Posts: 7,165 Member
    Hi. I'm doing much less biking this year than the few previously and I'm suddenly sad about it. I mostly mountain bike but have a CX that I use on roads too. My rear shock blew late last fall, and due to a layoff I couldn't afford to get it fixed until recently. Just pick up the bike yesterday and they told me there is something wrong with my rear brakes, which I knew (they've needed to be bleed more often then they should), so it's got to go back to the shop on Sunday :'( . I think I'm going to try to take it out Sunday morning anyway.
  • wutaday1
    wutaday1 Posts: 45 Member
    I have two bikes a hybrid and a mountain bike. And I am finally getting back out on them again. Went for a 12 mile ride yesterday for the first time in over a year. My husband is threatening to sell them if I don't use them lol. I want to bike in the mornings before my kids get up and then later in the day strength train or yoga depending on the day. I ride my hybrid on the local paved trail which is nice. I need to get my mountain bike out on the mountain bike trail nearby again too. Not sure yet how this will help with my weight issues, but I am hoping for some lost fat and gained muscle.
  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    wutaday1 wrote: »
    I have two bikes a hybrid and a mountain bike. And I am finally getting back out on them again. Went for a 12 mile ride yesterday for the first time in over a year. My husband is threatening to sell them if I don't use them lol. I want to bike in the mornings before my kids get up and then later in the day strength train or yoga depending on the day. I ride my hybrid on the local paved trail which is nice. I need to get my mountain bike out on the mountain bike trail nearby again too. Not sure yet how this will help with my weight issues, but I am hoping for some lost fat and gained muscle.

    Ive switched from being a night owl to being a morning person just to fit my cycling in, riding will help with your weight issues and muscle retention. You really need to be eating at a surplus to gain muscle.
  • smsquash
    smsquash Posts: 41 Member
    edited June 2018
    Hi. I am a beginner cyclist and have a few questions I’m hoping I might be able to get some advice on?

    First, some background: I’m mid-40’s, haven’t really ridden a bike since I was a kid. Had spinal surgery a few years ago because I developed cauda equine syndrome. I have nerve damage (permanent) from my waist down and because of that, I deal with balance issues and weakness in my ankles, calves and to a lesser extent, knees. I’m overweight and out of shape, especially since my surgery in 2015. I also suffered a knee injury last winter during a snowshoe hike that’s better, but not completely healed. Wanting to get more fit and just generally be able to do more (hiking, biking, cross country skiing, backpacking, etc).

    I chose the bike because I thought it would be low impact and easy on my knees and lower back. Mine is a hybrid, and also step through because my range of motion for hips/legs is still not the best. Lots of residual scar tissue and stiffness in my lower back. I also had my bike set up for me at a bike shop so that my handle bars are high and I’m sitting upright, with a straight spine (at the advice of my neurosurgeon).

    I live in the mountains in Vermont, and all of the roads are extremely hilly, and dirt/gravel. My house is on the side of a mountain on a dirt road.

    It’s been much tougher than I expected starting out. I come out of my driveway directly into a long, tough climb. I still have to walk most of the way up the first hill (it’s a mountain, really), because it is so long and steep. At the top of the hill, there is a flat spot where I get on and start riding, but there are still hills, constant up and down hills, in every direction. Nowhere near me has much flat ground. Closest gym is at least 45 minutes away, and I hate working out indoors anyway.

    I started out with a goal of just doing the same loop as I usually walk, which is 3 miles of up and down hills on dirt roads. Everyone I’ve read or talked to is starting with 5, 10, 15 mile rides to start? I’ve been working on completing this same 3-mile ride without having to stop, get off and walk up the steep hills for a month now, and realistically it’s going to be at least another month before I can do it without walking. And I’m not even counting coming out of my driveway and having to climb to the top of the mountain. I’m just assuming I’m going to have to get a lot stronger before I do that.

    My questions:

    Is it normal to take this long to be able to do a simple, three mile ride? I feel like I’m doing something wrong because I’ve been out there, every other day without cheating, and although I’m making very small improvements, I’m nowhere near able to cycle this three mile loop yet (it’s been 5 weeks of riding it every other day)? I just keep shifting down until there is nowhere else to go, and then I push hard until I just get so slow I come to a standstill, and then I have to get off and walk to the top of the next hill. I do upshift so that I continue to cycle and build momentum on the downhills but I’m physically unable to maintain revolutions on the steep hills.

    Also - I’ve been reading a lot that hills are hard on your knees? Am I not giving my knees as much of a break as I think I am by adopting a no impact activity? I really enjoy cycling - it’s so beautiful here and I love getting out under the open sky - but I’m now a little scared of the potential impact on my knees. I really really can’t afford another injury. I did get a basic bike fitting when I bought my bike, and I also brought the recommendations from my neurosurgeon and I think he set it up based on those recommendations. I am only 5’1”, I already feel like the bike is way too tall and scary to get on, I can barely reach the ground on one tiptoe when I’m on the seat (and only on one side, my other foot doesn’t reach at all.) With my weak ankles and messed up balance, this is really scary, especially when it comes time to stop. My legs are already weak, and then they’re shaky and exhausted from trying to push so hard to get up all of the hills... I do sometimes lose my balance upon stopping and have to let my bike kind of fall out from under me so I can steady my foot on the ground. I guess my big question: is it ok for me to start out on this terrain, which is probably nowhere near “beginner” terrain, but it’s all that I’ve got?

    Also, when I bike in the rain, it is much, much more difficult. The roads liquify and get squelchy, and trying to go uphill through mud is really exhausting. The downhills are slippery and scary. I’m extra scared because of the seriousness a fall could mean because of my previous surgery. I had bones removed from my spinal column and now a hard fall or jar could re-injure my spine more easily. I usually cut those days even shorter, and although I feel like I’m working a lot harder in the rain, I don’t know if there is even any benefit from only biking for a mile or two? Am I wasting my time altogether by doing such short rides? I feel ridiculous doing a two-mile ride and calling it exercise, but up a mountain in the mud, it’s exhausting for me still. I come home, my legs are shaky and weak, sometimes I feel dizzy and like I’m going to vomit, and the next day I’m stiff and sore.

    I also don’t know if my short, exhausting rides are enough to help with fitness or weight loss? Map my ride says I burn an extra couple of hundred calories. I never really eat them back, mostly because I’m skeptical about whether such short rides can make any difference, and since I eat pretty healthy and don’t really have any problems staying within my calorie goal, it feels counter-intuitive to eat back any possible exercise calories. A 3-mile loop takes me right around 23 minutes, and I do that every other day. The intensity (for me at least) is high though.

    Thanks for any advice, I’ve looked all over for answers in cycling forums and such and haven’t come across much on starting out as a raw beginner on tougher terrain. Vermont is all mountains, so it’s a long drive to anywhere that could be considered flat or easy cycling. At least a couple of hours drive probably.
  • chunkytfg
    chunkytfg Posts: 339 Member
    smsquash wrote: »
    Hi. I am a beginner cyclist and have a few questions I’m hoping I might be able to get some advice on?

    No problems. I'll answer what I can
    First, some background: I’m mid-40’s, haven’t really ridden a bike since I was a kid. Had spinal surgery a few years ago because I developed cauda equine syndrome. I have nerve damage (permanent) from my waist down and because of that, I deal with balance issues and weakness in my ankles, calves and to a lesser extent, knees. I’m overweight and out of shape, especially since my surgery in 2015. I also suffered a knee injury last winter during a snowshoe hike that’s better, but not completely healed. Wanting to get more fit and just generally be able to do more (hiking, biking, cross country skiing, backpacking, etc).

    I chose the bike because I thought it would be low impact and easy on my knees and lower back. Mine is a hybrid, and also step through because my range of motion for hips/legs is still not the best. Lots of residual scar tissue and stiffness in my lower back. I also had my bike set up for me at a bike shop so that my handle bars are high and I’m sitting upright, with a straight spine (at the advice of my neurosurgeon).

    Thats a lot of issues to work round but if your medical doctor says its okay to cycle then trust them. If you have back issues and need to ride upright with a straight back then thats not a problem at all. everyone is different on a bike and rides whatever way is most comfortable for them.
    I live in the mountains in Vermont, and all of the roads are extremely hilly, and dirt/gravel. My house is on the side of a mountain on a dirt road.

    It’s been much tougher than I expected starting out. I come out of my driveway directly into a long, tough climb. I still have to walk most of the way up the first hill (it’s a mountain, really), because it is so long and steep. At the top of the hill, there is a flat spot where I get on and start riding, but there are still hills, constant up and down hills, in every direction. Nowhere near me has much flat ground. Closest gym is at least 45 minutes away, and I hate working out indoors anyway.

    Not the ideal terrain to start riding on but not the end of the world. It will just make it tougher and if you need to walk up to the top to find a flat bit to start on so be it. Like you said. better to be outdoors than stuck in a gym.

    I started out with a goal of just doing the same loop as I usually walk, which is 3 miles of up and down hills on dirt roads. Everyone I’ve read or talked to is starting with 5, 10, 15 mile rides to start? I’ve been working on completing this same 3-mile ride without having to stop, get off and walk up the steep hills for a month now, and realistically it’s going to be at least another month before I can do it without walking. And I’m not even counting coming out of my driveway and having to climb to the top of the mountain. I’m just assuming I’m going to have to get a lot stronger before I do that.

    Is everyone you've read about or talked to riding in the mountains with various strength, balance and terrain issues? If you were in a flat area you'd also be doing 5/10/15 mile rides no doubt. Just be the best you can be and ignore what everyone else can do.

    My questions:

    Is it normal to take this long to be able to do a simple, three mile ride? I feel like I’m doing something wrong because I’ve been out there, every other day without cheating, and although I’m making very small improvements, I’m nowhere near able to cycle this three mile loop yet (it’s been 5 weeks of riding it every other day)? I just keep shifting down until there is nowhere else to go, and then I push hard until I just get so slow I come to a standstill, and then I have to get off and walk to the top of the next hill. I do upshift so that I continue to cycle and build momentum on the downhills but I’m physically unable to maintain revolutions on the steep hills.

    Everyone is different. don't think about stopping as cheating. If you were starting running you would be doing a couch to 5k type program to get into it and that involves going out for runs with walk intervals. you're not doing anything different. When I first started riding as an overweight teenager I would ride to the train station up this massive steep hill. It took nearly 6 months of doing it everyday before I actually made it all the way to the top in one go. I would just every day try with everything I had to see how far I got then I would stop, walk to the top and get back on.
    Also - I’ve been reading a lot that hills are hard on your knees? Am I not giving my knees as much of a break as I think I am by adopting a no impact activity? I really enjoy cycling - it’s so beautiful here and I love getting out under the open sky - but I’m now a little scared of the potential impact on my knees. I really really can’t afford another injury. I did get a basic bike fitting when I bought my bike, and I also brought the recommendations from my neurosurgeon and I think he set it up based on those recommendations. I am only 5’1”, I already feel like the bike is way too tall and scary to get on, I can barely reach the ground on one tiptoe when I’m on the seat (and only on one side, my other foot doesn’t reach at all.) With my weak ankles and messed up balance, this is really scary, especially when it comes time to stop. My legs are already weak, and then they’re shaky and exhausted from trying to push so hard to get up all of the hills... I do sometimes lose my balance upon stopping and have to let my bike kind of fall out from under me so I can steady my foot on the ground. I guess my big question: is it ok for me to start out on this terrain, which is probably nowhere near “beginner” terrain, but it’s all that I’ve got?

    Must confess to not really hearing about cycling being hard on your knees, and personally I've never had a problem. I would imagine if your turning the pedals over really slowly 'grinding away' then its worse than spinning over in an easier gear but not ever seen it being mentioned as 'bad for your knees'

    Most bikes are set up with a relationship between the 3 contact points. Feet, hands and seat. The inability to reach the floor while sitting on the saddle is pretty normal. I can just get one tip toe down while sat on my saddle. To stop you just come forward off the saddle and then put your foot down. don't try and stop while staying seated.

    Like I said above. If that terrain is all you got then just keep at it. You'll get there, trust me. My GF is newish to cycling(2 years riding) and we went to the alps in france 2 weeks ago. She wasn't convinced she would manage to get up the climbs but she literally climbed mountains! It wasn't quick and she found it crazy tough but she did it!
    Also, when I bike in the rain, it is much, much more difficult. The roads liquify and get squelchy, and trying to go uphill through mud is really exhausting. The downhills are slippery and scary. I’m extra scared because of the seriousness a fall could mean because of my previous surgery. I had bones removed from my spinal column and now a hard fall or jar could re-injure my spine more easily. I usually cut those days even shorter, and although I feel like I’m working a lot harder in the rain, I don’t know if there is even any benefit from only biking for a mile or two? Am I wasting my time altogether by doing such short rides? I feel ridiculous doing a two-mile ride and calling it exercise, but up a mountain in the mud, it’s exhausting for me still. I come home, my legs are shaky and weak, sometimes I feel dizzy and like I’m going to vomit, and the next day I’m stiff and sore.

    I can't really comment on the safety aspect of riding in slippery conditions. That is something for you to make your own mind up on really. I personally though would maybe walk on the days it isn't so nice and ride on the nice ones. exercise is exercise no matter is you need wheels or walking boots!

    If your happy to ride in the mud though just embrace the added difficulty and enjoy the extra calories burned the tougher conditions make you burn.
    I also don’t know if my short, exhausting rides are enough to help with fitness or weight loss? Map my ride says I burn an extra couple of hundred calories. I never really eat them back, mostly because I’m skeptical about whether such short rides can make any difference, and since I eat pretty healthy and don’t really have any problems staying within my calorie goal, it feels counter-intuitive to eat back any possible exercise calories. A 3-mile loop takes me right around 23 minutes, and I do that every other day. The intensity (for me at least) is high though.

    23 minutes riding at high intensity is still 23 minutes your not sat in front of a tv/reading a book/ doing something sedentary. Of course it helps in the big picture and even the little one. Keep at it. One of these days you'll be finishing that tough 3 miles loop and you'll think to yourself, 'I might go round again'. And you know what, you'll make it round. Then it'll be instead of 2 laps you'll plan a longer loop and that will be come your norm, and before you know it you'll be a shadow of your former self, faster, fitter, lighter, happier and able to ride out your front door and up the hill straight away without walking to the top first.

    Thanks for any advice, I’ve looked all over for answers in cycling forums and such and haven’t come across much on starting out as a raw beginner on tougher terrain. Vermont is all mountains, so it’s a long drive to anywhere that could be considered flat or easy cycling. At least a couple of hours drive probably.

    No problem. Happy to help. Everyone was a beginner once!

    Good luck
  • mjbnj0001
    mjbnj0001 Posts: 994 Member
    smsquash wrote: »
    Hi. I am a beginner cyclist and have a few questions I’m hoping I might be able to get some advice on?

    I'm newly returned to cycling after 30+ years. This site has many folks who are really more deeply capable than I to share their experiences or point out one or another relevant points of gear and training, and tips. I, OTOH, am able to share my fresh newbie perspectives, so I hope this helps.

    I'm older (60+), male, very overweight, and without muscular-skeletal problems impacting my cycling, such as you indicate, but with other issues, including cardiovascular. Comes with the territory of sitting at a computer for 40+ yrs without tending to physical conditioning.

    My family bought me a Christmas/Retirement gift this past December of a nice bike. I'm newly retired, but my "new job" is to "get fit." So I'm working on it. Living in coastal NJ, my local terrain is pancake-flat relative to Vermont, and aside from some landscape undulations, my local bridges supply many of the "hills." Except, of course, for the hill about 1/4mile from my house that sits on my preferred route to the beach. More on that in a moment.

    First, the above poster, @chunkytfg, is exactly right. You're on your own journey now, and cannot judge your progress against others. We're all different. In my routesheet case (handlebar bag top), I carry a couple of inspirational pictures. One says, "No matter how slowly you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch." So, congrats to you for getting out. Let your doctor's advice be your guide as to your limits and approaches, and keep on plugging.

    When I first rode in the week before New Year's, going a mile was a big deal. Literally hard. On faith, I did my usual written New Year's resolutions, and included 750+ miles riding for this year, and 25lbs lost. At 300+ miles so far, I'm on track, with the summer season just beginning. I have a planning spreadsheet that projects 900+ with gradually-increasing range in my rides through late Autumn, then tailing off. This week, I'm 28lbs down from Jan 1st, so I've hit my initial weight target, and hope for another 15+ before Thanksgiving. Weight loss isn't all from riding (outside) - there's also some winter/spring recumbent cycling in the gym, and good dietary management using MFP. More important than the numbers is that I'm feeling better than I have in some years, and family/friends are really noticing the changes. But enough on me, I'm just establishing some bona fides.

    * * * * *

    1. Bike.

    I had flexibility troubles throwing my leg over my bike when I first got it, and relied on either the curb-step-up method or lower-the-bike-drastically method to mount and dismount. I've been doing nearly-daily bodyweight and resistance band exercises and stretches, and no longer have that concern. Step-through frame was my second choice, and it was an act of faith to pick a bike with a regular top tube.

    When in Florida earlier this year, I rented a recumbent tricycle to try one out. I'm looking down the road when I might have age-related balance issues, but still have some ability to cycle. I had also thought through this option before choosing my current bike. If you already didn't have a new bike, I might suggest giving these types a look.

    Lastly, e-bikes offer a solution when the spirit is willing and the flesh is lagging a bit. Especially when trying to work with a lot of hills. There are e-bike conversion kits available, but I don't have any particular knowledge of how good, compatible or effective they are.


    2. Starting out on a hill.

    "... I come out of my driveway directly into a long, tough climb. I still have to walk most of the way up the first hill (it’s a mountain, really), because it is so long and steep ... and I hate working out indoors anyway."

    This is a tough one.

    As I mentioned above, there's a hilly section on my preferred road to the beach within 1/4 mile of the house. I started a couple of months ago taking a longer, busier, but more level road, but am now able to ride the hill OK. This doesn't mean I like it; as a "clydesdale" (big rider), hills will never be my friends, and I have to gradually work up to them. I have found that being warmed up to the ride exercise makes them easier. A 1/4 mile head start isn't really enough, but the same hill (it's symmetrical along the road coming and going) at the end of a ride is almost a snap. Maybe try some warmups before you set out to get you readier to face your hill.

    It takes time and practice, and we're all going to have difference paces. There are bridges and ramps and such in my area (see picture below) that challenge me. This particular ramp took several weeks of retries (I do this destination about 1x/wk) before I got all the way up riding rather than walking. It's not much compared to an actual mountain, but it is one of my local challenges. Now I "own it."

    There's a guy I've been following on youtube from the UK. He's prepping for a vacation later this year in Mallorca, which means a lot of hills. He posts vids weekly on his training progress. He's a bit younger than I, a bit less heavy than I, and in better cycling shape than I. However, his experiences resonate with me. See ... leonardmlee ... at youtube.


    3. Distance and Progress.

    " ...I started out with a goal of just doing the same loop as I usually walk, which is 3 miles of up and down hills on dirt roads. Everyone I’ve read or talked to is starting with 5, 10, 15 mile rides to start? I’ve been working on completing this same 3-mile ride without having to stop ... I’m just assuming I’m going to have to get a lot stronger before I do that."

    I'd say yes. Strength and capability come with time. 1 mile was tough when I first started. Now I'm doing in the 20+ range fairly easily. On a mountain bike outfitted with "most surfaces" smoother-tread tires, not a road bike.

    You'd be right to point out that I'm mostly in the flats. Hilly terrain is much different. Much harder. Just before we got married (many yrs ago), my wife and I took a weeklong inn-to-inn tour in Maine. The tour directors told us to be prepared for 20-30 miles in hills each day. I trained for the ride when living in northern NJ with access to the "Palisades" (a granite escarpment lining the western shore of the Hudson River north of NYC). I rode up the incline to the top, which was pretty tough, thinking that was great. It was. But the tops of the Palisades are fairly uniformly level. Maine has hills. And hills. And more hills. About like Vermont, I think, LOL. You've got it harder. So, don't think less of your progress than it has been by comparing it to some abstract ideal which is irrelevant to your riding conditions.

    [YOUR] questions:

    a. "Is it normal to take this long to be able to do a simple, three mile ride?"

    You're on your own pace for progress.

    re: gearing - when I rode many yrs ago, I had a proper touring bike that had higher high gears and lower lows (including a "granny gear" - 28-tooth front cog) than my current bike. You might be able to make some replacements to your hybrid to help out in this area.

    b. "Also - I’ve been reading a lot that hills are hard on your knees?"

    Generally speaking, cycling should be better on your knees than running. Certainly, as someone older and heavier, I wouldn't want to be running to lose weight. That would be too jarring to my system. Do ensure your bike is fitted correctly - proper saddle height can alleviate some leg problems, etc., and keep on improvements in gear shifting techniques. From your "tiptoe" comment, it sounds like you might have to have another look at bike fit, but I'm not qualified to speak to this on any detail (note that your local bike shop might do a good range of fit checks, but there are also specialized lab-grade fitters around, and might be appropriate for special needs - but also, that any given bike has a range of adjustments and options that can be made to it before another bike altogether is indicated). I can say, BTW, I've got 5 doctors cheering me on - as well as my family - that cycling is a great way to fitness for me, with my preconditions. Supplementing swimming, and my other sport, sailing. I am loving cycling now, it was a major act of faith to take it on, and it's having very positive effects. But, I had to be prepared to walk away or make major alterations (ebike, recumbent trike, etc.) if it was not going to be so. Not everything is appropriate for everybody.

    * * * * *

    I don't feel competent enough to share more of my experiences or talk through your other questions. All I can say is good luck, in this, if this is your path, and in life. It sounds as if you've got motivation to do something even if cycling isn't going to be your way. I used to teach scuba diving as an adjunct to my primary career in IT. I had 100s of students over the years. In a few cases, very few, I had to say to them, "this isn't for you" due to varying circumstances. This, by the way, applies to me. I love scuba diving. But I've developed conditions as I've aged that bars me from this activity. I was pretty distraught when I found out. We took a 30th wedding anniversary trip to the BVIs last spring, chartering a sailboat. I would have loved to dive some of the sites we visited. But made do with snorkeling. And enjoyed myself and the trip.

    vh6te8fjxip8.jpg

  • Ardael
    Ardael Posts: 246 Member
    Hi smsquash.

    A few tips for a fellow shorty ;)

    - regarding dismounting your bike, try stopping near a curb, flat stone, brick, tree stump, etc. If you have places than you know you will stop and there is no such thing bring your own one day and set up stops for yourself.
    - Your saddle was set up at a shop probably for max efficiency/ speed. At your level you want to get the legs going so maybe drop the saddle a bit and as you get fitter and slimmer you can raise it again to its original height. Don't hesitate to make a notch on the seat pen. My saddle has come up half an inch since the beginning of my weight loss.

    - for your knees, spinning is what you need. As mentioned above consult your bike shop and ask for the "Granny Gears" I had them for 4 years on my bike and even though people sometimes laughed at me I'm totally injury free. Cycling can be very hard on the knees if you push too hard à gear. As a commissaire ( a competitive cycling referee ) part of my job is too insure that underage riders have the right gears for their age groups for races. Most juniors and young elite riders i know have had knee surgeries because they pushed monstrous gears training.

    I agree with pretty much anything else that was said.

    Mind yourself and it will happen naturally !
  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    @smsquash what gearing do you have on your bike? With steep terrain you certainly should look at having the gears to enable you to get up the hills.

    You dont need to stay seated when coming to a stop, i can barely touch the ground while seated. I always stand when come to a stop.

    Riding in the rain is a personal thing, i ride because i like riding, however not in the rain. If its raining i go back to bed, if im out riding and it rains ill keep riding but ill take it easy. Generally it is easier to stick with things you enjoy, manage your riding so you keep rolling.
  • aokoye
    aokoye Posts: 3,495 Member
    smsquash wrote: »
    I live in the mountains in Vermont, and all of the roads are extremely hilly, and dirt/gravel. My house is on the side of a mountain on a dirt road.

    It’s been much tougher than I expected starting out. I come out of my driveway directly into a long, tough climb. I still have to walk most of the way up the first hill (it’s a mountain, really), because it is so long and steep. At the top of the hill, there is a flat spot where I get on and start riding, but there are still hills, constant up and down hills, in every direction. Nowhere near me has much flat ground. Closest gym is at least 45 minutes away, and I hate working out indoors anyway.

    I started out with a goal of just doing the same loop as I usually walk, which is 3 miles of up and down hills on dirt roads. Everyone I’ve read or talked to is starting with 5, 10, 15 mile rides to start? I’ve been working on completing this same 3-mile ride without having to stop, get off and walk up the steep hills for a month now, and realistically it’s going to be at least another month before I can do it without walking. And I’m not even counting coming out of my driveway and having to climb to the top of the mountain. I’m just assuming I’m going to have to get a lot stronger before I do that.

    My questions:

    Is it normal to take this long to be able to do a simple, three mile ride? I feel like I’m doing something wrong because I’ve been out there, every other day without cheating, and although I’m making very small improvements, I’m nowhere near able to cycle this three mile loop yet (it’s been 5 weeks of riding it every other day)? I just keep shifting down until there is nowhere else to go, and then I push hard until I just get so slow I come to a standstill, and then I have to get off and walk to the top of the next hill. I do upshift so that I continue to cycle and build momentum on the downhills but I’m physically unable to maintain revolutions on the steep hills.
    I live at the base of an extinct volcano so I get the whole, "I can't ride my bike anywhere without hills" thing. My general thought is don't be so hard on yourself. I normally drive myself and my bike to somewhere flatter (and with roads are more bike friendly infrastructure wise) when I want to ride my bike. That said when I do ride by my house there are two hills that I flat out can't get up without stopping. I say this as someone who is in fairly good shape cardio wise and regularly rides well over 40 miles.
    Also - I’ve been reading a lot that hills are hard on your knees? Am I not giving my knees as much of a break as I think I am by adopting a no impact activity? I really enjoy cycling - it’s so beautiful here and I love getting out under the open sky - but I’m now a little scared of the potential impact on my knees. I really really can’t afford another injury. I did get a basic bike fitting when I bought my bike, and I also brought the recommendations from my neurosurgeon and I think he set it up based on those recommendations.
    Peddling hard at low cadences can likely be hard on your knees but otherwise cycling isn't particularly hard on your knees. I highly suggest getting gearing that is appropriate for the terrarian you have to deal with (hills).
    I am only 5’1”, I already feel like the bike is way too tall and scary to get on, I can barely reach the ground on one tiptoe when I’m on the seat (and only on one side, my other foot doesn’t reach at all.) With my weak ankles and messed up balance, this is really scary, especially when it comes time to stop. My legs are already weak, and then they’re shaky and exhausted from trying to push so hard to get up all of the hills... I do sometimes lose my balance upon stopping and have to let my bike kind of fall out from under me so I can steady my foot on the ground.
    If you think the bike is too big I would probably think about seeing if you can return your bike and get a smaller one. I realize with your hight that's a somewhat hard ask, but it's an easier ask than if you were wanting to find a road bike (see Emma Pooley).
    Also, when I bike in the rain, it is much, much more difficult. The roads liquify and get squelchy, and trying to go uphill through mud is really exhausting. The downhills are slippery and scary. I’m extra scared because of the seriousness a fall could mean because of my previous surgery. I had bones removed from my spinal column and now a hard fall or jar could re-injure my spine more easily.
    You don't have to ride in the rain if you don't want to and if you don't feel safe then don't do it. While I have no issues with riding in the rain (I live in Portland...), I am very cautious on steep desents because of my various injuries and surgeries. I can't really afford to have another surgery within the next 12 months.
    Am I wasting my time altogether by doing such short rides? I feel ridiculous doing a two-mile ride and calling it exercise, but up a mountain in the mud, it’s exhausting for me still. I come home, my legs are shaky and weak, sometimes I feel dizzy and like I’m going to vomit, and the next day I’m stiff and sore.
    To me that points to you starting with too much too soon. Feeling dizzy and like you're going to vomit isn't a good thing and to do that every other day doesn't seem healthy (though I am not an exercise physiologist nor am I a doctor).
    Thanks for any advice, I’ve looked all over for answers in cycling forums and such and haven’t come across much on starting out as a raw beginner on tougher terrain. Vermont is all mountains, so it’s a long drive to anywhere that could be considered flat or easy cycling. At least a couple of hours drive probably.
    Have you started a thread on bikeforums.net? They are a wealth of information and some of us are there as well (not always with the same username, myself being one of those). My general thought is a. do that and b. find rolling hills. It doesn't need to be flat but if you can find somewhere that is flatter than you are now that would be ideal. They have a clyde/athena forum but to me it seems like the issue is your fitness and potentially your balance and ankle strength, not your weight (though that does obviously come into play on hills).
  • mjbnj0001
    mjbnj0001 Posts: 994 Member
    I thought about you and my earlier answer yesterday, @smsquash, as I rode one of our local county park rail-trails (see picture below). These types of trails are typically flat or low-incline, arrow-straight or lightly curved (they are former railways). Seems perfect for reducing some of the impediments (i.e., terrain) that are keeping you from fulfilling your cycling goals.

    I just re-read your post above. You don't say exactly where in Vermont you are located so I can't be more specific. However, I did just consult traillink.com for a list of Vermont trails, and it reported 37. Maybe some are within reachable distance to your home, and can accommodate your needs.

    Rather than focusing on your immediate locality, which is challenging for you, it may be better to pack up your bike and take it somewhere else reasonably close to develop your riding. After, at some point, your home locality might not be so impenetrable. This trail I was on yesterday is relatively boring, but offered a great way to knock out about 10miles after doing my Saturday chores/errands. I am fortunate in that there are a variety of off-road trails (paved and/or compacted fine gravel, not just mountain/gravel bike trails) within a short drive of my home, some quite scenic or at least interesting. While I'm on the local roads also (about 30% of my riding to date), I'm still not as comfortable with them as I was 30 yrs ago (due to both my own issues and the traffic conditions). One humbling aspect of these trails is that I had no clear idea of how many were around until I started using them this year.

    Best of luck in your efforts!

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  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    I wasnt saying dont ride in the rain, just ride when you enjoy it, some people dont like to ride when its hot either but i much prefer that.

    The sun finally came out for me today tmsk02lmkuuu.png
  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    I had a bike fit done recently, the fitter said i wasnt using my glutes at all and gave me some exercises to do off the bike to 'activate' my glutes. What, if anything do people do on the bike to engage their glutes?