A novice question.

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by PineTar, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. PineTar

    PineTar New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    First off, I know this is likely the wrong place for a question on such a primary topic, but it seemed to make more sense here than anywhere else.

    I rode a lot as a kid, but I haven't seriously ridden a bicycle for very long in something like twelve years. In the meantime, I've put on a lot of weight and I seem to have forgotten how to ride a bicycle like I once did. I hope somebody can help me with that.

    The first thing is turning. I feel almost paralyzed to turn. I remember vividly leaning the bike over to massive angles when I was younger, but now I can't lean at all. There was a time when I managed to knock the skin off my knee because I would lean off the bike so far. Now though, it just feels wrong.

    My worry is one of simple strength. I weighed less than a hundred pounds then, now I tip the scales at two-hundred and thirty pounds. I'm not sure if I lean the bike over if I'll be strong enough to 'stand it back up'. I don't actually remember if I ever did need to force the bike back to vertical when I rode before, it's been so long, memory fades. I certainly don't want to end up crashing out because I managed to lean over without being able to come back up. I could do one handed push ups and pull ups then, now I'd be hard pressed to do a two handed push up.

    I've seen photos of other cyclists, and I see a lot of people riding with the bike leaned to thirty, forty degrees. I've been riding again for fewer than four days, will the 'old magic' return, leaning the bike, turning quicker, more stable, or am I doomed to unsteadily turning the front wheel and hoping I don't end up killing myself? In one way it feels like my confidence grows exponentially each time I ride, and at other times I feel like I'm minutes away from a blinkylight ride to the hospital.

    In summary;

    I'm unsure about leaning the bike. How much should I worry about leaning and not having the bike come back up?
    Will more saddle time and mileage cure my phobias?
    Will I become more stable.

    I'm still unsure if a guy who's 5'7" and 230 pounds can even ride a bicycle like I did as a kid, but if I don't learn how, I'll likely be dead. Ideal center of gravity or not; I've got the shed the weight. I was born with multiple foot injuries and problems that make aerobic walking, running simply too painful to do; cycling is my last hope.
     
    Tags:


  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Yes, you can ride a bike and your weight is not really an issue in terms of basic bike riding. Plenty of larger folks ride bikes and the good news is the more you ride the better your chances of some of that excess weight coming off.

    Do not worry about leaning the bike over from the standpoint of getting it upright again. Physics takes care of almost all of that and it doesn't require much in the way of strength or depend heavily on your current weight. The big issue with leaning a bike over is leaning it too far in slippery conditions but almost everyone errs on the side of not leaning the bike as far is it will go most of the time, especially on dry pavement where we can almost always lean further than we are willing to.

    Just get out and ride, take it easy at first and just ride gently around the bends. As you do more of it your confidence should return and you should be able to take turns a bit faster, when you do you'll lean the bike more and again the confidence should grow as you realize strength has almost nothing to do with getting the bike upright as you exit a tight turn. Just remember the basics as in not pedaling too deep into tight corners at speed so you don't strike the inside pedal. And for those turns tight and fast enough to coast put most of your weight on that outside pedal which should be at the bottom of the pedal stroke, also keep a fair amount of weight solidly on the rear of the saddle to keep weight on your rear tire and to keep it from skipping on small pavement irregularities. That and you don't really steer a bike around the corner with the handlebars as much as bank the bike into a fast corner a bit like the way an airplane banks to turn.

    Get out and ride and it will all get easier.

    Good luck,
    '-Dave
     
  3. Dave Cutter

    Dave Cutter Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    27
    You mean after four long days of cycling.... your not riding like a pro yet?

    Stop worrying about at what angle you can lean a bicycle. Keep your eye on hazard's like traffic, obstructions, and tire swallowing grates. Those are the things that will kill you. Worrying about looking photo-cool when in a high-speed decent.... that doesn't sound too safe to me.

    Your skill levels and confidence should increase with more saddle time/mileage.

    I lost a bunch or weight through diet and cycling. I did some exercising too... but I don't count cycling as exercise... I just really enjoy cycling. But I found I could actually cycle some real miles... and still gain weight. I used an app (for smart phones or tables) called "Lose it!". There are others that do the same thing.... they really help people re-learn how to eat. I went from 257 pounds to 177 in a single season using the diet app and having fun cycling (I also walked before breakfast).

    What brought me back to cycling was a foot problem. I had got to where..... from the car to the house or parking lot to work/store was all I could manage. Cycling seemed like a great/only way for me to get fresh air and sunshine.

    Your instability is possibility related to your balance.... and not your cycling skills. If you have a wii it has some great balance/fitness games that help with balance issues. You should also look for balance exercises online. Try Youtube, the CDC site, and the livestrong Site.
     
  4. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    Pinetar

    I am sure there are multitudes on this forum and many more that have positive testimonies, but the ones that have a positive testimony are the ones that are determined and from that determination comes a desire to be consistent. In my testimony I started cycling in 2004 after many years competing in bodybuilding. From that cardio was taboo as I spent all those years trying to pack on as much mass as possible. I went from a 115 lbs as a college sophomore to 190 lbs over a number of years and won a lot competitions, but internally I was a mess. In 2004 sitting in a doctor's office with an EKG machine hooked to me and the doctor saying you are about a heart beat away from a stroke or cardiac arrest. She did the usual and prescribed Lipitor and blood pressure medicine and I was faced with the fact of being on meds for the rest of my life or do something about it. Like you mentioned running was out because of the mass I was carrying and a neuroma in my foot.

    After telling a coworker and friend, who happened to be an avid cyclist, he invited me out to ride with him at a multi use path and he let me borrow one of his bikes. That first 10 mile ride on a flat straight path might as well been a 100 miles and I could barely make up a 2% incline. Well to be honest I was doubled over gasping for air at the crest of that little incline. At the end of the short ride I felt exhausted, but was hooked on cycling immediately. Six months later I was not much lighter, but the doctors were already seeing a difference in my blood pressure. Skip ahead to current day and I am still as addicted to cycling and my fitness continues to improve. I could easily do a 100 mile ride any day of the week and did 78 yesterday as just a normal day out.

    It helped me to use that flat and straight multi use path for that first year just to start improving my cardio fitness. I didn't have to worry about bike control and just focused on riding. I also joined a spin class and participated each weekday morning.

    I still go to that path once a week and see multitudes of people that I would say are obese and I have a great appreciation that they are out trying to turn things around in their life. What it takes the most is determination to make a change and from that determination comes the motivation to keep at it. My first motivation was to stay alive and not be on meds for the rest of my life. Through the frustrating days, the discomfort at times and even falling over now and then cycling is a really nice avenue to getting fit.

    Best wishes
     
  5. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,723
    Likes Received:
    126
    FWIW. Whether or not YOU are correctly remembering how much you leaned your bike(s) when you were younger (are you referring to a BMX bike which is extremely close to the ground compared with an "adult" sized bike?!?), the pictures to which you are referring are probably Crit racers who are moving at a considerable speed who are typically negotiating 90º turns ...

    While daveryanwyoming certainly is correct about 'not leaning the bike as far is it will go most of the time', there is a presumption of a calculable speed for the tires, the rider, and roadway circumstances AND how much a rider can theoretically lean the bike before traction is lost.

    • BTW, there are, in fact, (at least) two schools of thought with regard to the attitude of the bike when turning ... one where the rider leans in concert with the bike & the other where the bike essentially remains vertical (that is, is leaned less) but the rider shifts his/her weight ... or, a combination, thereof ...
    • again, speed IS a component which affects how much leaning is required for you to turn your bike

    Regardless, IMO, you should not try to lean the bike more than necessary (i.e., whatever you think you remember having done in the past) since I presume that in the here-and-now that you have been riding at speeds slower than 15mph.
     
  6. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Messages:
    2,214
    Likes Received:
    39
    pinetar, just start riding your bike a little bit every day. Forget about the leaning thing, just relax and let the bike keep itlself upright, and steer itself where you want to go. Leaning isn't something you do, it's just a result of the physics of making turns on the bike. As you increase your speeds, you'll naturally start reaching higher lean angles in turns....it's automatic. Once the bike is leaned over and turning, you'll automatically bring it out of the turn by "countersteering" just slightly. It doesn't take any strength at all, just a light pressure to pull on the side of the handlebar opposite the turn. in fact, most people don't even know they are doing it. You can do the same thing by just shifting your weight (no hands riding).

    Practice on a wide, quiet street or emplty parking lot, level with plenty of room to maneuver. If you're worried about falling, you could put on elbow/knee/hip pads, and of course always wear a helmet. Just work at it a bit every day. Even practice a bit of no-hands to get your confidence again. It might take a week or a few weeks for you to "get your balance" and become comfortable again, but be assured it will come back to you.
     
  7. PineTar

    PineTar New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks to all.

    daveryanwyoming; Ah, so that's why I didn't remember how the bike managed to upright. Physics is wonderful.

    Dave Cutter; I understand I don't have a lot of time in the saddle, I just didn't want to commit myself to a hobby I can't do because of the shape I'm in. Last night I was strongly considering putting riding on hold and getting an exercise bike. Thanks to the group, I've got new confidence.

    I'm not yet comfortable going out on the road. I live on a crooked chip-seal secondary road and motorists (and big rigs pulling log trailers) love to come blasting around these curves upwards of 50mph. (80km/ph) I'd like to be a little more steady and skilled before I start fighting those guys for space. I have access to plenty of land here, it's the same place I rode as a kid, so I've been doing a lot of riding within the yard and revisiting those old places I once rode. I have noticed, it's much more hilly than it once was, as I have more trouble. :) :D My theory, somebody has been giving us dirt over the course of years, just sneaking in under the cover of darkness and giving us dirt. I'm the payoff for their prank, and somewhere there's an evil mind giggling "Oh I bet that's burning those legs!" Evil minds...

    alfeng; I started with a 16" singelspeed, and graduated to a 20". I dabbled with a 26" for a while and then started thinking more about cars. Now I've come back after a couple of false starts. You are correct about the photo I saw being a competitor. I'm slowly learning that there are major differences between some doof riding a bicycle and a pro or semi-pro. Thinking about it, there were a few clues in the photo to indicate speed once I went back and looked at it. He may have been pushing 25MPH or more. (more questions about this later). With the two schools of thought you posted in mind, I think I'm going to conduct a little experiment. I have an open field here where I've been riding a lot. It's reasonably flat and wide open. I intend to try shifting my weight off the saddle slowly and learning the 'boundaries' of that to make a controlled turn.

    feltrider; 78 miles in a day? Wow. I'll likely never make a pull like that on my old mountain anchor, but when I upgrade to a road bike, I'm glad I've got a big goal to shoot for!

    And your are bang on about the speeds. I've been much slower than 15, as I've barely managed to get out of second gear, though I have gotten to third and fourth in certain spots. Since speed really doesn't mean much to me, I've been focusing more on cadence and light resistance, while also getting some good grind now and then. My cadence is hilariously bad right now, but I'm confident that it'll improve. (I don't have a cycle computer but I counted my spins through a fifteen second interval and came up with 64 on the flattest terrain I have. Pathetic, but I'm trying.)

    Thanks to everyone. Dave, I especially appreciate you coming forth with your weight loss accomplishments. With my heart problem, I don't expect such big drops for myself, but it's good to hear real numbers instead of hyperbole. :)
     
  8. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    5,088
    Likes Received:
    41
    I'll give you the same advice I give to novice riders in my club. Staying upright on a bike is about balance. The way you keep your balance is by slight turns of the front wheel. Staying balanced at speed is easy and you'll get comfortable with that quickly. What causes most novices problems are three things: (1) coming to a stop with clip-in pedals, (2) starting from a stop on a slight upgrade and (3) corners. So, one at a time. When I teach beginners to come to a stop with clip-in pedals, I suggest to them to slide forward off the seat and unclip one pedal as they are slowing. When they actually stop, they have only to put down the free foot. When I teach beginners to start from a full stop on an upgrade, I teach them the stutter-stroke start. So, with only one foot clipped in, you bring that foot near the top and start with a good push down. But instead of trying to clip in the other foot right away as the bike decelerates, bring that same clipped in foot to the top quickly with a short back-pedal stroke. Push down again. Do this stutter-stroke as many times as necessary to get some momentum so you have time to get the other foot clipped in. As to cornering, the thing that is hard to wrap your head around is the fact that to go right you pull in with the left hand and to go left you pull in with the right hand. In a turn, to tighten the turn you pull in with the outside hand. On first thought, this sounds strange, but it's actually true. Watch a motorcycle race sometime and notice that to tighten the turn the rider pulls in with the outside hand. BTW, I have only gone down in a turn once (when I was riding solo). I got in too close to the apex and the road was cambered out and was slick. I was doing about 40, so it hurt and tore up my shorts but no broken bones.
     
  9. PineTar

    PineTar New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2013
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks for the advice RapDaddyo. I don't use clip pedals (yet), and my starting method is to stand off to the left side of the bike with my right leg over the top tube, sitting on the right pedal (which is just ahead of top). When I'm ready to go, slightly push off with my left foot, while lifting my body upwards and shoving my right foot down hard. Normally by this point I've already found my left pedal with my left foot and away I go.

    Thanks to everyone who has offered me advice. :)
     
Loading...
Loading...