Newbie here

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Newbie here

Postby richardegg » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:03 pm

Hello all,

My name is Richard, I am 30 and have never ever ridden a bike. As a child I never got around to it, and as a younger adult I was too fat to do so.

I am an experienced marathon runner (well...3....) and multiple half marathon/ City to Surf finisher. I have been suffering injury lately due to doing too much and poor intrinsic biomechanics. As it turns out it has been suggested to me by various professionals (dietician, physio and GP) I take up cycling. I go on the stationary bike in the gym and it is a bit boring looking at Channel V all morning.......

So......I have some questions. This may be more relevant to other sections but am unfamiliar with forums.....

1. What bike should I get as a learner/beginner? My GP suggested getting a 2nd hand one from the recycling centre to learn on, but that sounded dangerous....what of a $149 K-Mart special? Or should I just go to a bike shop? My start-up budget is $500 or so.....I would be interested in a road/commuter bike; I would like something I could use for transport and use more competitively when I get the fitness and experience.

2. Any hints/tips on actually starting to ride? Where do you put your feet? What do you do? I am mostly concerned about balancing....

3. How does one transport a bike? I Have 2 Commodores (VB and a VX), would I need a bike rack?

Any sound advice is most welcome :)
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by BNA » Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:19 am

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Re: Newbie here

Postby g-boaf » Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:19 am

Don't get a second hand one. Would you get a second hand pair of shoes to run in that might not fit properly?

Any entry level road bike from the brands like Trek /Giant / Merida etc will get you going, but make sure you get properly fitted.

You can start out with platform pedals until you get the feel of things. Maybe start off riding on a grassy surface - if you go down it won't hurt you or the bike much. Perhaps your bike shop has learn to ride a bike lessons?

You'll soon learn the way. Riding a real bike is much nicer than those stationary things.

And when you are proficient - swap those pedals over for some clip less ones and shoes with cleats. ;)

I can fit a 54cm road bike in the back of a car just by taking the front wheel off.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby The Walrus » Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:23 am

Hi Richard.

Can you borrow a bike from a friend to learn on? Where are you located? Many cyclists have many bikes, so they might let you use one to try it out.

Once you get over the fear/concerns about balancing you'll be fine, it's just a case of getting out there and trying.

I'm not sure of the best buying options in that price range but lots of guys and girls on here will so get ready to do some research!
Never underestimate the power of ignorance
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Re: Newbie here

Postby bychosis » Sat Jul 06, 2013 8:01 am

Please don't buy a Kmart bike. Every time. Someone buys one of them a fairy dies :D

Go to a bike shop, get fitted, purchase. Bt try not to let them up sell to you too much. Beginners need only a bike and a helmet, not shoes, not cycle specific clothing etc. a hybrid is probably the best starting point, they are designed for easy riding.

Expect your first bike to be a compromise if you are learning. If you get hooked, and lots do, it'll be upgrade time before you know it.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby Duck! » Sat Jul 06, 2013 8:11 am

A very effective technique for developing balance is to remove the pedals, set the seat quite low & use the bike as a balance or "runbike". With your feet comfortably within reach of the ground, it's easy to scoot or run the bike along, so you can get the feel for the bike's steering & braking. Once you're comfortable with that, then you can reattach the pedals, lift the seat to the correct height & ride away.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby richardegg » Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:17 pm

Well, I went to the two bike shops in town (I live in Orange); picked up a 29" Apollo hybrid w/ 24 speed, disc brakes, front suspension w/ lockout with a helmet for $599.

Have been going up and down the paved area in the backyard with feet running along. I once managed complete balance...for 5 metres.

Have a photo session this arvo for something will try a bit more after that....
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Re: Newbie here

Postby bychosis » Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:23 pm

You probably need to get over the fear of a little speed, going really slow is difficult to balance, getting up to over 15km/h (fast jog/run) will help immensely with the wheel momentum assisting staying upright.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby g-boaf » Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:13 pm

When you are going quicker, the bikes feel much more balanced. Mine don't feel great at less than 10km/h, twitchy and nervous. But get them up over 30km/h or even 40km/h in the case of the Giant, and it is totally predictable.

The balance and feel for the bike will eventually come. The more you do it, the better you'll get at it.

You made a good choice for the bike - should be quite durable and will probably take a bit of rough and tumble. Maybe better than a new shiny composite race machine.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby lobstermash » Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:26 pm

I'm currently teaching my kids how to ride. Find a nice, slightly downhill path to help keep momentum, and just pedal. Keep your eyes one where you want to go. If you look off the path, that's where you'll go.
Passing on your right - me, said just about never...
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Re: Newbie here

Postby richardegg » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:23 pm

Well a bit more progress; got to coasting really fast and maintaining complete balance for 10-12m; and was able to start to steer a bit. But backyard is not big enough, and too flat. Heading out tomorrow to a nearby recreation reserve that has long paths and gentle gradients.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby richardegg » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:41 pm

Well had 3 sessions today...first was a 10 minute session out the back where I actually start pedalling! Then later in the morning was able to pedal 170m non-stop in a wobbly line.......did that a couple of times (at local netball courts) but really fluffed up the afternoon's effort, could only manage about 40m. I was too mentally and physically tired (my core strength sux), hands all sweaty and cramped up from anxiety and fear...might get some cheap gloves tomorrow....still getting the hang of steering where I want to go (netball courts = 170 x 40m area for me to make a goose of myself :p)
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Re: Newbie here

Postby Percrime » Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:40 pm

THe big secret of most bike control is.. unless doing quite advanced stuff.... the bike WILL GO WHERE YOU LOOK. It takes a specific act of will to stop this happening. SO dont look at the pole or the bloke going the other way. Recognise that they are there.. look where you want to be and thats what will happen. Really. All else is the subject of more advanced training.

Oh and wear gloves. THe helmet law should be a glove law. Fall off and you probably wont hit your head. Skin both hands and your GF will be wiping your ass when you need to go. So gloves.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby K2 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:47 am

Hey Richard,

Some wobbly 170ms followed by no more than 40m might suggest that you are trying to pedal in too big of a gear. Make sure you've selected a gear that will allow you to spin your legs with just enough resistance to keep you moving, perhaps small front ring and somewhere in the middle at the back. Both pushing too hard a gear early or spinning and going nowhere will make balancing much harder than it needs to be. You need to find a happy medium until you're capable of changing while you are riding.

Also, getting going is the hardest part. As others have suggested, if possible you really should try looking for a gentle downward slope to take off from. This will allow you time to get balanced on your seat and to gently start pedalling without much effort, and you really will find it a lot easier to control the bike once you get up to about jogging speed...many folk struggle to stay upright at very slow speeds, even some of those who have been riding for quite a while. Sure, it's a useful skill to develop, but you've got bigger fish to fry for now.

And yes, gloves will help with hanging on whilst sweating. They'll also help absorb some of the bumps once you're heading out on 50k treks, and most importantly, will provide that distinctive cyclist's tanline around your wrist that assists other riders in identifying a kindred spirit...well, that and your freshly shaved legs, shapely calves, and bowed legs. Oh yeah, and as Mr Positive went there [no offence P], your partner probably doesn't want to have to go there....I certainly wish we hadn't! :)

Keep at it and once you get it you'll be left wondering what all the fuss was about.

Good luck.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby V17L » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:22 am

Hi Richard,
Welcome to the forum, and good on you for getting out there.

When I put my foot on the pedals, I find it easier for the ball of my foot to be over the axel/spindle of the pedal. This also trains you for when you get into the clipless pedals.

With sore hands, relax a little and don't grip the handlbars as tightly, hard when your worried. You should only need to grip the handlebars enough for your balance and to steer. This will become easier as you become more familiar with riding. Gloves are good.
cheers
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Re: Newbie here

Postby richardegg » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:58 pm

Well day 2......turns out yesterday I was in a really low gear (smallest at the front, 3rd smallest at the back) no matter how fast I pedalled didn't go that fast and on the slight decline where I was I was coasting too much. I don't like coasting, I like to feel a bit of resistance at all times whilst pedalling. Put it up a gear a bit, used middle gear today and was able to start off ok. Today I practised doing some wide turns and was able to do a complete 330m up and back. Was able to use all of the back cassette gears, upshifting/downshifting all the way. Did this a few times, cracked 1.5km in total. After I got home I tried starting off on my street. Also tried starting off in the highest gear successfully. Am a bit paranoid about riding near obstacles for now (gutters, parked cars) so will probably keep going back to the netball courts until I get much more confidence.

Can an effective way in starting off is to use a low gear at first, then progressively move up the gears as you gain pace?

Now...downhills...on the road and street, if you have downhills how do you negotiate these safely? Not confident enough atm to go over about 20-21kmh. I am terrified of the thought of unintended out-of-control acceleration. Ride the brake like in a car?? I assume you use a very high gear......

Thank you all for the advice and support so far..... :)
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Re: Newbie here

Postby zero » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:44 pm

richardegg wrote:Well day 2......turns out yesterday I was in a really low gear (smallest at the front, 3rd smallest at the back) no matter how fast I pedalled didn't go that fast and on the slight decline where I was I was coasting too much. I don't like coasting, I like to feel a bit of resistance at all times whilst pedalling. Put it up a gear a bit, used middle gear today and was able to start off ok. Today I practised doing some wide turns and was able to do a complete 330m up and back. Was able to use all of the back cassette gears, upshifting/downshifting all the way. Did this a few times, cracked 1.5km in total. After I got home I tried starting off on my street. Also tried starting off in the highest gear successfully. Am a bit paranoid about riding near obstacles for now (gutters, parked cars) so will probably keep going back to the netball courts until I get much more confidence.

Can an effective way in starting off is to use a low gear at first, then progressively move up the gears as you gain pace?

Now...downhills...on the road and street, if you have downhills how do you negotiate these safely? Not confident enough atm to go over about 20-21kmh. I am terrified of the thought of unintended out-of-control acceleration. Ride the brake like in a car?? I assume you use a very high gear......

Thank you all for the advice and support so far..... :)


Unfortunately asking a bunch of cyclists about speed is likely to derail the thread. 70 is a speed I achieve most years on dirt firetrails on a mountain bike. 80 is straight forward enough on a roadbike descending - bike is much better at speed than it currently feels like to you. I average about 35km/hr on flat roads. I remember when I was unfit enough to only average 24...

Torque is what causes a bicycle (or a car) to accelerate, and the lowest gears give torque multiplication (which is what allows a bicycle to start off, and a car to climb a hill), so yes, use lower gears for starting off, and for climbing. Really unfit people struggle with it because it puts a bit more emphasis on aerobic performance and less on leg strength, but you also don't tire as fast.

Unless its a fixed gear or a coaster brake, it will not stop by resisting the pedals in a high gear (in a car you use a lower gear for that). What you do is ride the brakes. I expect that you aren't trying to ride down a mountain pass, so special caveats about rim brakes and heat will not apply to you. Just use them whenever you need to. If there is any problem with your brakes that stop you from doing that, get em fixed!

You will eventually come to unconscious terms with counter steering, after which you will not understand why controlling the direction of the bike seemed so hard. I do recommend continuing to ride offroad until you feel that directing the bike where you want it to go is natural, as you don't want to be thinking about it whilst dealing with cars.

A bicycle turns because you counter steer (ie tiny - tiny) turn of the steering away from the direction you want to go, followed the bike leaning over, followed by you turning the steering in the direction you do want to go to control the lean. When you are going -really- slowly and you are not experienced with the bike, the wobbly feeling comes from having to try steer the front wheel back under your weight all the time, the bike is far more responsive going faster, so will seem easier to ride when travelling faster.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby bychosis » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:05 pm

Good on you for trying. Keep it up. Once you learn it's as easy as riding a bike :D

As for speed, don't worry about it too much. Average joe probably averages 20km/h and tops out at 40. Keen Cyclists go a lot quicker because they can. 8)

Some people ride their brakes on descent, I tend to pulse brake, get up some speed, brake to slow and repeat. Disc brakes probably appreciate this a little more than rim brakes due to heat dissipation. Rim brakes have more heat sink mass.

Once you get a bit more of a hang of it you'll probably find its easier to aim for cadence (pedal RPM) rather than a particular gear. 80-100 for efficient cycling, a little less for cruising. Maybe hopping on a stationary or exercise bike and see how fast that sort of cadence is might help before you get out there again.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby human909 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:09 pm

richardegg wrote:I like to feel a bit of resistance at all times whilst pedalling. Put it up a gear a bit, used middle gear today and was able to start off ok.

Most cyclists are like that. A low gear normally makes balance more difficult. A middle gear is sufficient for most uses, don't worry about messing around with gears too much until you are more confident with the basics.

richardegg wrote:Am a bit paranoid about riding near obstacles for now (gutters, parked cars) so will probably keep going back to the netball courts until I get much more confidence.

When you do start trying remember never to ride too close, always give yourself space.

richardegg wrote:Can an effective way in starting off is to use a low gear at first, then progressively move up the gears as you gain pace?

Yes, but don't start off too low. Unless you are on an up hill then you might find a middle gear comfortable.

richardegg wrote:I am terrified of the thought of unintended out-of-control acceleration. Ride the brake like in a car?? I assume you use a very high gear......

Gear choice is irrelevant if it is steep as you don't really need to pedal. As far as you should be concerned your brakes are just as effective as a cars. Progressive application is important, never just slam them on. Steep hills mean riding the brakes the whole way down. (You front brake is the most important brake but for the time being even pressure on both should be sufficient.)

I don't see why gloves are necessary. The majority of cyclists don't use them, they are really only popular amongst the road bike scene or hardcore mountain biking. But really its up to you. As you might have guessed I don't use gloves. :wink:
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Re: Newbie here

Postby g-boaf » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:18 pm

Nothing much to add to the above - except that 70 on a MTB, you are certifiably insane! :D 8)

Otherwise going downhill, I just get on the brakes a few times if I want to keep the speed in check in places where I don't feel confident about going really quickly downhill (ie near driveways, side streets and the like).

Starting off in a lower gear is easier, but not in too low a gear. You want a gear that will give you enough speed to properly get going (more so when you discover clipless pedals and shoes with cleats). Too high a gear and it'll be difficult to get moving.

Soon you'll be getting used to going quickly, but remember your braking distances.

Human909: gloves are useful if you are going quickly, not just for protecting the skin - it is damn cold at the moment when doing 45km/h or better!
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Re: Newbie here

Postby Wakatuki » Tue Jul 09, 2013 7:08 am

Nothing to add to the above, all spot on. (gloves are good though)

Welcome to the forum and cycling, it's addictive, BEWARE!!!! :lol:

Looking at youtube MTB help and stumbled over these, they made me smile and I thought of this thread, good luck and practice..
The original http://goo.gl/BKRT3
Great remix http://goo.gl/tflIC

Finally a 25 year old learning just the same. http://goo.gl/rM2bw

My wife (now 52, our secret, do not tell anyone!!! :) )learnt to ride a bike back in November last year, she now rides on average 40ks on the roadie and recently bought a MTB 29er rode a 25k forest ride at the weekend, only the forth time on this bike, rode in power sapping clay, some nasty climbs and some loose rocks taking over 3hrs. But she smiled all the way, even went over the bars! (didn't smile at that bit, but carried on.) We are going out in the mud again next week!

You are doing it, keep it up.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby richardegg » Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:26 pm

Well today went back to the practice area. Tried to get my cadence/speed up, but the seat being too low (as suggested for beginners) makes it impossible/uncomfortable more me to pedal faster than 60rpm. May have topped out at about 20-21kmh. Slow yes but a helluva lot faster than running lol.......

I also practiced turning, which went reasonably well. Soon I might be ready for a bikepath lol........
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Re: Newbie here

Postby Summernight » Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:45 pm

Keep up the good work, Richardegg! I love reading your progress updates.
20-21kph is quite a respectable speed. :D
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Re: Newbie here

Postby bychosis » Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:59 pm

Good work. yup 20km/h is a good speed. Wireless I mentioned cadence up previously, comfort comes into it too. If you can't pedal that fast, then don't. My point was that pedalling too slow (and pushing hard) will make it harder to balance and contro your bike. Turning comes with practice - it will become second nature, but riding a bike is not inherently natural.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby Percrime » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:11 pm

Ok the seat too low thing. Its a bad move... but the idea is that if you can reach the ground while seated you will be happier. So put it up till you can JUST reach the ground with your toes from the seat. Mark that point. Cos in future it only goes up from there.

So now try practicing 1 thing at a time for a while. Put it in a low gear. Small ring at the front... big gear at the back. Find a big grassy area. Practice taking off and stopping. Just that. Then do that in a car park in a higher gear. Then work doing big circles in it. Concentrate on looking where you want it to go. Do it till you are bored then another 20 minutes.

Then go for a ride on the bike path with it in a higher gear

THen repeat all the above only do lots of gear changes in it. By now you are more skilled than some commuters.
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Re: Newbie here

Postby Summernight » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:27 am

Percrime wrote:By now you are more skilled than some commuters.


:lol:

There was a lady on a bike on the corner of Barkers Rd and High Street, Kew last Sunday night who was at the front of the traffic queue at the lights. I was turning left into High St from Barkers Rd. The light turned green and she clearly either was in too high a gear or couldn't balance the bike to start off - she literally went completely out in front of the car in a huge unbalanced wobble. Lucky for her it was me in the car and I don't move forward until I know the cyclist is clear and balanced. If you had inched forward in the car or expected her to hold her line you would have had to sharply brake to stop from hitting her.

I also remember doing something similar on a hill at the start of my commuting days - unbalanced wobble a bit too far into the traffic lane (dedicated bike lane there) starting off from the lights. :oops:

One thing to remember when you're a bit more confident and on the roads is to shift down into an easier gear as you approach a stop sign or light. Makes for a much easier take-off.
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