A born again rider with some questions

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A born again rider with some questions

Postby pugsly » Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:16 am

Hi,

After not having owned a bike since I was 17 (I'm 30 now) and setting some goals around losing weight and fitness, my wife and myself have ordered a couple of bikes from our LBS (see I've started reading the forums and picking up on some acronyms :D ).

After some discussion, the guy in the LBS suggested a Giant Boulder Disc for me, and a Giant Cypress for the trouble and strife which fit to our budget. Short term I'm looking to ride the bike to the gym (2km) and go for rides down to Jells park on the weekends (I'm in Glen Waverley). I'm then intending to start commuting to work (23km) taking the train at first part of the way in, then riding the rest. Ultimately I've set a goal to participate in the BRW triathlon in 2009. Why so far into the future? Well I weigh 150kg. I need to lose a truckload of weight before I can run - else I risk some joint damage. Doing the math at a healthy 1kg/pw I won't have close to an ideal BMI until April 2008.

Having talked to a friend who does a bit of riding and the guy in the LBS, this is a little more detail of what I've ordered.
17" Giant Boulder Disc, semi-slick tyres (as I expect to spend most of my time on tarmac), a helmet (entry level Netti), a bike lock, a kit with puncture repair, tools, pump and pouch that goes under the seat, lights, drink bottle/holder and a basic computer (speed, distance etc).

Anyway, enough background. Onto my questions.

When I rode, it was in a small country town - population 2000, I now live in Melbourne, and obviously traffic and rider density is much higher - I'm not sure of the best ways to deal with traffic when I'm not on bike tracks, apart from my perspective coming as a driver. Are there any unwritten rules that apply when dealing with cars/other riders? What should I consider as I start riding in city traffic?

My bike/accessories - I think I've got all the basics - is there anything else I should be thinking about?

I'll continue reading the forums as there appears to be a wealth of information in here, it just takes time to read through everything, and I want to minimise the amount of time I spend in front of a computer which led to my getting seriously obese in the first place. :oops:

I thank everyone that cares to comment in advance - I really appreciate your insight in this area that I'm rediscovering.

Cheers
Pugsly
Last edited by pugsly on Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by BNA » Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:17 am

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Postby TriggerFish » Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:17 am

Howdy Pugsly,

Unfortunately I have no words of advice on the bike front. But words of encouragement from someone facing the get fit issues same as you. I really like your idea of setting a goal like competing in the triathlon and might make a similar move with something local to me. I genuinely wish you success in your endeavours.

Regards,

TF.

P.S. Sorry for the thread hijack.
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Postby europa » Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:19 am

Yer off to a good start Pugsly.

I got back on the bike in July, and started from a rather more modest overweight position (110 kg - I feel rather a fraud with you two :D but it is nice not to be the only Clydesdale in the mob :D)

I've done over 1100 km since then and a few hours on the stationary trainer (only had it a couple of weeks). I've read and tried countless books on getting fit and training. I've searched out websites on getting fit and losing weight. There is something NONE of those writers has addressed and which I am only just starting to experience now - you have to have a certain level of fitness before you can start getting fit.

Seriously.

When I climbed back on the bike, I tried to 'take it quietly' and couldn't. I put that down to my 'head down, bum up, go like blazes' personality (hey, if something's worth doing, it's worth doing to excess :wink: ). A couple of months back, when I got my heart rate monitor (worth buying and worth buying a good one), I started to seriously think about and monitor what I was doing. Uh Uh. Still couldn't make it work, and I was a lot fitter and stronger than when I started. Only now am I reaching the point where I've got good control over my body and can actually read the fine nuances of what it's telling me - it only has to whisper 'slow down a bit' now, instead of screaming and refusing to comply with my demands :wink:

In other words, I'm about ready for a basic fitness program about now ... and teh books won't tell you that (probably because the writer's are so damned fit themselves that they've forgotten what it was like to be unfit).

For the next six months, just get out on your bikes and enjoy yourselves. Have fun. If it hurts, it's not fun so stop for a bit. If you're stuffed, sit under a tree and watch the fit buggers fly past. Sure, set goals but give yourself permission to fail - seriously. Don't expect to commute by bike everyday or even a lot of days because commuting carries with it a lot of external stresses (time, inability to stop and smell the roses, work pressures, traffic, etc). I wouldn't even consider commuting unless you really want to, or just make it one day a week. You've got a lot of muscle to build up, muscles which aren't there from other activities (or lack thereof) and muscle takes time to build. Muscle is also heavy so don't think too much about weight loss - measuring bits of you is a better guide.

Seriously, just get out and enjoy the bike. The fitness gains will come quickly and you'll probably amaze yourself at the distances you start riding. And keep us posted, we love cheering successes. You'll know when it's time to get a bit more serious but also be prepared to take a few days off when your body decides you've tried too hard.

And just for a bit of inspiration, here's one of my early posts from July 18 this year:
europa wrote:Well, I'm now officially unfit. Took the hybrid out for 11 mins and 40 secs and I'm stuffed :oops: Looks like I'll be doing that twice a day for a bit.

To be fair to meself, I know how quickly your leg muscles get back into gear, but sheesh, have I a long way to go.


Yesterday, very hot and so humid it was like riding through soup, I rode 10km to a lbs for some parts. They didn't have them but knew of a shop that did ... over the other side of the city. So I rode over there, got the bits and rode home. A 58 km ride in steamy conditions with a long and extrememly nasty climb near the end (walking some hills is good :roll: )

So yes, progress is possible and yes, I was less than energetic last night.

Best of luck boys. If you trawl through the forum, you'll find quite a few members telling us about their success stories. We look forward to cheering yours.

Richard :D
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Postby mikesbytes » Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:07 pm

Hi Pugsly,

That sounds like an excellent stategy.

Why don't you look for a local social riding group and pay them a visit, they can help you with learning the in's and out's of riding on roads.

Cheers,

Michael.
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Postby pugsly » Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:27 pm

europa wrote:Yer off to a good start Pugsly.


Thanks Richard, and TF for your words of encouragement. I think the hardest thing with all of this will be staying motivated. I'm thinking about daft things like putting signs on the fridge, the front door and my work desk with simply 'BRW 2009' on them to act as a reminder.

europa wrote:You have to have a certain level of fitness before you can start getting fit.

Seriously.


I agree with you this. This isn't the absolute start of my journey. I was in a much worse position a little over 12 months ago. 165 odd kg and a dedicated couch potato - my only exercise was walking from the house to the car, and the car to the office. I realised I had to do something.
I started off walking around the block - and even that was a hassle. My calves started complaining before I was half way around. I kept with it and got to walking 4km before work each morning, then joined a gym. I lost about 15kg in a few months, but then work took over and I lost focus. I managed to stop my weight going up, and now am making a concerted effort to get moving on this again by setting a long term goal with a number of short term goals on the way.

I'll be taking it easy on the bike to start with - 2km to, and 2km from the gym each morning will be my starting point - this area is relatively hilly, so that's enough for now. I'll gradually work up from there.

europa wrote:A couple of months back, when I got my heart rate monitor (worth buying and worth buying a good one)


I bought a Polar F11 about 12 months ago - which was good for the time, and will probably do me for now. I'm not at your level to know exactly what my body is telling me - I tend to be of a similar mindset - if a little bit does a little bit of good, a lot must do a lot of... Well, let's just say I've learned a bit. :D

europa wrote:For the next six months, just get out on your bikes and enjoy yourselves. Have fun. If it hurts, it's not fun so stop for a bit.

That's certainly the plan. Being able to comfortable commute into work is a mid-term goal I've set, working towards doing that for the next 'ride into work day' that's held. My cheese and kisses is looking for fitness improvement, but not to the same level as me, and we want to do some riding together, so there will be plenty of opportunity to smell the roses. :D

europa wrote:Muscle is also heavy so don't think too much about weight loss - measuring bits of you is a better guide.


I guess my overall plan is to get fit - to an fitness level that allows my participation in a small triathlon with weight loss being the bi-product (hopefully).

europa wrote:And keep us posted, we love cheering successes.

I will. I've got along way to go, which means there is massive room for improvement. I went to the gym earlier today and hit the pool for the first time in years - I could bare swim 25m without stopping. I'm really looking forward to the bike though - much more fun, and practical.

europa wrote:A 58 km ride in steamy conditions with a long and extrememly nasty climb near the end (walking some hills is good :roll: )


Wow, I can't even imagine doing that yet. Well done!

europa wrote:Best of luck boys.


Thanks again, I look forward to swapping bike stories. :D

Cheers
Pugsly
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Postby Mulger bill » Sun Jan 07, 2007 3:04 pm

G'Day Pugsly :D

It sounds like you've thought it out pretty well, I like your choice of ride, (I'm a Giant tragic :roll:) The extras should see you right for a while too.

Europa wrote:Seriously, just get out and enjoy the bike. The fitness gains will come quickly...


Absolute GOLD. If you're having fun, you'll want to be out for a ride, not sitting at home. That's where the fitness will come from.

Commuting... First thing, sit up and be noticed, be a part of the traffic, obey sensible laws, ignore those that put you at risk. I'll also suggest on a day off or three, heading out in a generally workish direction, taking your time, and taking the time to scout out the best route you can, taking everything into consideration. You'll often find yourself riding home using a different route. Websites like Sheldon Browns or Bikenow can offer a lot more advice too.

Nice to see you here, hope to see you out there some time.

Shaun.


Ohh... sorry, nearly forgot. You'll need a couple of spare tubes, swapping tubes is quicker than patching trailside, try to fix the puncture on company time :wink:
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Postby beauyboy » Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:23 pm

It does sound like you have thought it out.
Riding in traffic is a skill and one that is very important. The way I ride is I ride like a vehicle because by law I am one. Relise that you are much more defenceless but do not show fear. Be a defensive rider not a aggressive rider.
When going past parked cars stay well away from there doors! TRUST ME :oops:
Obay traffic light and pedestrian crossings
Remember you are a vehicle by law and will be booked if you get caught braking the rules.

On a lighter not :P
Have fun, that is what it is all about. Two bikes are a good idea. Try doin rides to explore. Or do night rides thru the bush on sealed paths. That is heaps fun! :D
so have fun

Donald
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Postby Bnej » Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:57 pm

A mirror is handy.

I ride in the middle of the lane if there's little traffic. If someone's coming up behind me, I'll see them in the mirror and move over for them. It's a "I see you, you see me, look I'm letting you by, now be nice" manoeuvre.

When making right turns or on roundabouts generally, stick your arm way out to signal and wave it all about, and make eye contact with the people who are supposed to give way to you. Take the middle of the lane through the roundabout to stop people from attempting to pass during - if you push through at 15-20 km/h no-one should complain.

Be assertive. Don't look like you're going to give way unless you are meant to. But always be ready to deal with someone driving out in front/opening doors/etc... leave yourself some breathing space.
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Postby Louie » Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:52 pm

I commute about 5kms, with the initial intention of losing weight & getting fit. It took some time to build some fitness, the rest is just fun and I think the weight loss will follow with regular riding. Sometimes I walk to work or catch the bus if I have to but riding is faster, convenient and much more fun!

Enjoy commuting and riding in general, be confident, take all the advice here.

On another note, Bnej, have I seen you riding in Northbridge with a little dentist-type mirror on your helmet? I like this idea, did you get it at the lbs? Does it bug you that it is always in your peripheral vision? Great idea.
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Postby Bnej » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:09 pm

Louie wrote:On another note, Bnej, have I seen you riding in Northbridge with a little dentist-type mirror on your helmet? I like this idea, did you get it at the lbs? Does it bug you that it is always in your peripheral vision? Great idea.
Louise


Not me, wrong area. But I've looked at one of them (helmet mirror) from my LBS and thought it was too small a field of view to be useful to me - I mean, it could be useful, but I didn't like it. The type I looked at was a Blackburn I think... Small mirror on a stick with some adhesive for your helmet.

I use a oval bar-end mirror which I have an improvised attachment for my trekking bars. These are really good esp for flat bars, you plug it in to the end of your bar, and it sits outside your hands & arms, so you get a great view behind on the right.
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Postby mikesbytes » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:21 pm

Louie wrote:On another note, Bnej, have I seen you riding in Northbridge with a little dentist-type mirror on your helmet? I like this idea, did you get it at the lbs? Does it bug you that it is always in your peripheral vision? Great idea.
Louise


They are sold as a bike component that fits to your helmet. Sorry, I don't know where you buy them.
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Postby tinstaafl » Thu Jan 11, 2007 6:15 am

No pain - no gain is mony balony.
Listen to your body and follow it's advice to you.
Ride for fun and you will get fit but don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Ride for the sake of riding and the fitness will follow.

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Postby pugsly » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:25 pm

I'd like to thank everyone for their words of wisdom, advise and encouragement! It certainly seems to be a very friendly community here.

My wife and I picked up our bikes today from the LBS. The guy who runs the place was great - very patient with our questions, and took the time out to show us around our bikes - it was very appreciated.

Rather than drive to the shop, we caught the bus, which forced us to ride the 6km home. :)

I've never ridden in a hilly area before either - ouch. My legs were on fire even on the easiest gear on some inclines - I'm sure they weren't overly steep, just me overly unfit.

After about 40 mins, we made it home safe and sound. The bikes seem well made, and easy enough to ride. My front disc seems a little sticky, so I'll be looking into how to free the pads up a little, otherwise. It's all good.
I've ordered a towbar for the car so I can put bikeracks on, so we can easily get to some of the funner more scenic areas without it being an arduous chore.

Thanks again, and I'll update with my progress. :)

Cheers
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Postby Mulger bill » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:37 pm

Goodonya Pugsly, nice move taking the bus.
Give it a few months and those hills just won't do it for you any more. :lol:

What sort of discs and fork are you running? I might be able to help.
Well, try to anyway :oops:
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Postby pugsly » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:47 pm

Mulger bill wrote:Goodonya Pugsly, nice move taking the bus.
Give it a few months and those hills just won't do it for you any more. :lol:

What sort of discs and fork are you running? I might be able to help.
Well, try to anyway :oops:


Thanks Bill! :) I hope you're right.

As for what forks and discs - they're stock - so based off the Giant web site, the discs are Shimano M415 mechanical disc w/6" rotors, and the forks are SR XCT Ahead 75mm travel w/pre-load.

When I say a little sticky, what I mean is when I lift the front wheel from the ground and spin it, it seems the pads are rubbing against the disc slightly and it's not spinning as freely as it should. Perhaps it's not on /quite/ straight, or the brakes need bedding in. I'll have a bit of a look at it tomorrow, and if I can't figure it out, I'll give the LBS a call.
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Postby Mulger bill » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:13 pm

OK, post mount caliper to adapter to IS tabs on the fork.

Chances are the pads are still bedding in, or the caliper is not properly aligned.

To align the caliper, slightly loosen off the bolts holding the caliper to the adapter, you want the caliper to be able to move slightly sideways on the bolts, not flopping in and out, so to speak. Now check the bolts securing the adaptor to the fork, tighten if needed. With the front wheel off the ground, spin the wheel slowly, when it's nearly stopped by itself, squeeze the lever gently until it's stopped, then squeeze tightly and hold firm while you nip up the mounting bolts, alternating between the two until very firm. (Don't forget to refit the plastic clips to the bolt heads)

Now go for a ride! (repeat daily :) )

Remember that mech discs will need regular adjustment to compensate for cable stretch and pad wear, this is a simple job, your manual should give specifics, and give the rotors a wipe down with isopropyl alcohol or something similar once or twice a week.

Enjoy your new steeds Pugsly and Mrs Pugsly. 8)

How about a photo of the new wheels?
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Postby pugsly » Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:22 am

Mulger bill wrote:OK, post mount caliper to adapter to IS tabs on the fork.

Enjoy your new steeds Pugsly and Mrs Pugsly. 8)

How about a photo of the new wheels?


Thanks for the advice - I'll check it out before todays ride.

Photos - let's see if this works.

Cheese and Kisses Bike
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My Treadly
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Cheers
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Postby europa » Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:10 am

They look goog mate. Next step ... wear them out :D

Richard
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Postby pugsly » Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:11 pm

europa wrote:They look goog mate. Next step ... wear them out :D

Richard


Working on it - it's going to be slow going to start with.

We just went on our second ride - to Monash Uni and back. Stopped at the cafe at sports and rec for a coffee. :)

Before the ride I had a look at my front brake, released the wheel and lined it back up - that's what was causing the stickyness - it wasn't quite lined up, and rubbing on one pad all the time - easy fix!

8.3km today - from a muscle/fatigue point of view, we both agree we could do more, from a sore bum point of view - no way. Both of us are very tender on the rear. Also being big, I can feel some chafing coming on - I'm just wearing casual shorts.

Some more questions from me:

Bike shorts - apart from the aesthetic faux par of a big guy wearing them, from a non-observer point of view - are they worth it? And do they come in larger sizes?

Pedaling - this may seem really trivial/stupid - but when pedaling - how do you usually position your foot on the pedal? Pushing down with the ball of your foot, or the arch? For that matter, I note there are bike shoes and pedals where the shoe clips into the pedal - where do they concentrate the foot?

Thanks again for your help :)

Cheers
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Postby Bnej » Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:06 pm

Bike shorts will take care of chafing for you. If you don't want to wear skin-tight lycra, you can get something like Netti "Shy Shorts", which have the same type of liner but just look like casual nylon shorts. And they have pockets! You wear them without underwear, and they will draw the sweat off your backside/thighs and prevent chafing. Plus it's a bit of extra padding.

When pedalling, you should position the ball of your foot over the pedal. You can get cheap toe-clips that have no straps which will position your foot easily but are still very easy to get in and out of.

The clipless pedals you're talking about, they get adjusted so that the foot clicks in right at the ball of the foot. There's a cleat you attach to the mounting point on the shoe to work with whichever pedal you have, that clips on to the pedal, then you twist your ankle to get out.
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Postby europa » Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:26 pm

Easy one first - foot position - use the ball of your foot, not the arch.

Toe clips are useful in positioning your foot and you don't need to use the straps though you get more efficiency if you do. The next step is clipless which is far better than open pedals, far better than toe clips with no straps and a wee bit better than toe clips with the straps tight - yes, I use all the above options for my fleet.

Bike shoes have stiff soles that support your foot and lead not only to more power, but greater comfort than running shoes. I'd recomend that you save for a pair of bike shoes and SPD pedals. SPD pedals are a mountain bike pedal and have the advantage of a small cleat - many SPD shoes can be walked in (I also drive in mine) without a problem. Other systems use cleats that protrude from the bottom of your shoe and can't be walked on.

I wear a pair of shoes that look like runners, walk sort of like runners and which attack to Shimano M324 pedals - these have the clips on one side and a flat pedal on the other so I can use those pedals with normal shoes if I have to and I'd recommend that setup.

But in the meantime, make sure the balls of your feet are on the pedals - it'll become natural after awhile.

Once you come to grips with your bikes (and you are probably there now), it'll pay you to set the seat at the right height too (and no, I don't trust your average bike shop). Prop your bike against a wall, sit on the seat and put the HEEL of your foot on a pedal. With the pedal at the bottom of its stroke, your leg should have a very small bend in it. When riding, with the BALL of your foot on the pedal, you will have a bend in your leg without over extending yoru ankle.

Try this. Stand and bend your knees. Then try to walk across the room with your legs bent. It hurts doesn't it. A seat that is too low will do that. A seat height that allows a slight bend at the bottom of the stroke is the most efficient and doesn't hurt.

Now. Bike shorts. I'm currently riding with normal undies and loose shorts. This is because the shops all ran out of the larger sizes of bike pants a few months back and stocks have only just come in. I've ridden distances up to a bit over 70km and at least once a week will go over 50 km.

You do NOT need anything special for rides of up to half an hour. You really don't need them for anything up to an hour either though you start to feel a tad tender. Anything over an hour, buy a pair of bike pants - there's nothing glamorous in having a leatherlike bottom ... that hurts. Believe me.

Normal undies have seams in all the wrong places and with the elastic running through your groin close to the top of your thighs, you can rub holes in your thighs (guess how I found that one out). When riding, I wear MAXX undies - these are a tight fitting short with a seamless panel that runs across the groin - Target has them and they're cheap. These are comfy up to an hour and still pretty good at two hours.

With my figure, I'm not that interested in racing style lycra pants so I've just bought a pair of Netti ShyShorts. These are an mtb item. They are made out of a very tough material, have pockets and don't look too bad on. Inside, they have the lycra undershorts and padding - basically, they are your lycra racing pant built into a pair of tough shorts.

The lyrca pants work in two ways. The first is the seamless padding that you sit on - this has obvious benefits for cushioning. The lack of seams prevents chafing. The padding is also designed to draw sweat away from your groin making life more comfortable. The lycra grips the skin tightly - this is important because it doesn't move as you pedal and so prevents chafing. So the mix of lycra and padding is important, and it's why bike pants are so expensive - they need very good quality lycra (don't buy cheap). This is also why the shyshorts have the lycra and padding inside them.

You do NOT wear undies under bike pants as this just allows movement which leads to chafing.

My choice? I look better and feel better in shorts. The pockets are useful. So the choice was Shyshorts. They are basically essensial over two hours riding, highly desirable over one hour and a darned good idea over half an hour.

Richard
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Postby europa » Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:27 pm

Hmm, crossposting again - doncha luvit :D (Bnej was posting as I was typing)

Richard
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Postby Bnej » Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:16 pm

Well if you made forum posts instead of dissertations then it wouldn't happen so often... ;)
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Postby mikesbytes » Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:37 pm

Torpedo7 has a great weekly special on Bike shorts and shoes at the moment. I'm going to get a pair of shorts.
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Postby Mulger bill » Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:28 pm

Two sweet looking scoots there Pugsly. :D

Glad to hear the brake business is sorted, that continuous skreeit sound will drive you nuts.

Everyone else said it all regarding pedals, going clipless is a huge rite of passage and an enormous power boost, but a bit scary starting off.

Shorts... You won't catch me in lycra, ever. I just don't like the look.
If you're a fan of "street" shorts, you could try NZo, they're a Kiwi company, they make a line of padded undershorts that work well under regular shorts, an excellent compromise IMO.
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