newbie seeking advice about getting into road biking

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by wolfgang, Feb 24, 2004.

  1. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    Hello,

    I'd really appreciate anything at all that anyone can tell me about getting into road biking. I've enjoyed riding bikes all my life, from bmx as a kid to a couple years of not-too-serious road biking as a teen, and casual mountain biking ever since.

    I'm a little apprehensive about getting into cycling seriously, but I'm also very excited.

    Here are a few points (worries) that can help you get an idea of where I'm at:

    -I'm concerned about crashing/getting hit.
    -flat tires and having to fix them while on a ride.
    -getting injured.
    -saddle-soreness
    -being too heavy for my wheels. (I'm 6'4" and weigh 242 lbs., hoping that through proper eating and exercise, I can lose 40 lbs. within a year.) I believe round wheels are stronger than square ones, right??

    Also, if anyone can suggest a bike. I'm thinking about a Specialized Allez Sport, Elite, or Comp. I'll probably splurge for a Comp even though that may be too good for a beginner, but I don't want to have to buy a better bike a year later.

    Since I'm 6'4" I think I'll need either a 60cm or 62cm. Of course I'll have sit on some bikes to tell.

    Thanks in advance. I look forward to reading any replies.
     
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  2. McBain_v1

    McBain_v1 New Member

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    Welcome to the dark side ;)

    Everyone should worry about getting hit when riding. I've only been hit twice in almost 14 years of riding but haven't broken anything - mostly I just aged a few years out of fright. British motorists are not too hot at giving you the same respect you see in continental Europe, but more and more cycle lanes are appearing.

    Flat tires are not that bad. The quick release hubs making getting wheels off and back on really simple. Of course, if you get a flat riding tubeless tires it can be a ball-ache, but ordinarily stripping out the duff inner and popping the new one back in is easy (especially if you've powdered the new inner tube before hand). Anyone at your LBS would be happy to demonstrate. Just get some plastic tire levers to make sure you don't bugger up your rims.

    Saddle soreness - yep, happens to us all and there are lots of designs out there to try and reduce this. Anatomic saddles are moving on. A one that I like the look of and will be getting soon is the SaddleCo Flow saddle - this looks the business and gets some good write ups. Check it out here. Get some good shorts and you won't have too many issues.

    I may stand corrected on this, but I doubt you'll be too heavy for wheels. I know plenty of big blokes who ride and don't seem to come home with their wheels deformed into oval shapes.

    As for the bikes, the Specialized is a nice ride, but I really love the Argon18 Radon Cz. If you can - get one of these beasts. Have a look at the Argon18 range here :D
     
  3. starquake

    starquake New Member

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    welcome to the club :)

    i've never been hit or part of an accident on the road (i'm 26 now). the last crash on a pavement i had when i was around 9. all you have to do is to be cautious, check the traffic behind, don't use a walkman or discman while riding, and everything will be allright. the specialized allez is a really cool bike, i tried one two years ago. i think you can even look at bikes of 63cm.

    about flats: i have a flat on the road at around every 5000km as an average. when mountainbiking, i have it at every 100km. if you want to avoid as much flats as possible, try using some anti-puncture fluid inside your wheels. i had such thing in my continental giro tubulars once, and put 8000km into them before thrown them away. i got a flat once, but after 50 metres the hole was filled with this fluid. all i lost was around half bar of pressure.

    good luck
     
  4. McBain_v1

    McBain_v1 New Member

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    Yeah, just to pick up on that last post, you could try investing in some Slime inner tubes.

    The purists will say that they are not worth the extra weight, but to my way of thinking I'd rather be in the saddle than faffing around on the pavement fixing a flat ;)
     
  5. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I will add some suggestions that might be helpful. Try to find a road that is less traveled with automobile traffic. That will reduce your chances of being hit. These roads, at least in my area, have less gravel and trash on them also and that will reduce your chances of having a flat. Wear a helmet. Ride with someone else.The chances of both bikes going down mechanically are minimal and your partner can go get help or a car if necessary and you can watch each others backs. As far as bikes there are lot of good frames. Get one that fits you.The componets on the bike are generally made by a different company that the frame manufacturer.You can read a ton of info in this forum about pros and cons of various bike componets and form your own opinion. I use Shimano for the most part. Your butt will be sore for a week or so.Saddles are a trial and error issue.You don't break in the saddle,it breaks you in.
    Most important set reasonable goals and be diciplined but don't worry about weight loss issues. Having a good time riding will pay off more in the long run than obsessivness. Stay with it ,eat right and the weight will come off.
     
  6. dwj444

    dwj444 New Member

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    Worry about getting hit, because as people here and elsewhere will tell you, it happens. Ride carefully -- in the states, they teach you to drive defensively when you learn to work a car -- when you're mixing with traffic, make sure you take that to heart. Expect people to do the stupidest possible thing when driving, and you'll already be one step ahead.

    As for flats, saddle sores, etc., those are part of the sport and not to be worried over. Years in, your flats will all blend together, except for the few nasty ones that make good war stories. Quick release hubs, tire levers, a spare tube, and a decent pump will take care of the rest of it.

    I'm a fairly big rider, too (6'1", 195lbs), and I don't think you'll have any problems with your wheels. Consider what you're getting in terms of what kind of a fork it has on it though. A heavier rider tends to notice road hum more, which is something that a carbon fork can help with. Check it out.

    Otherwise, good luck and God speed.
     
  7. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    Thanks a lot, everybody. Your words of advice and encouragement are inspiring and very helpful.

    Regarding tire protection, does anyone still use Mr. Tuffy's. I'm not sure if these are available outside the US, but they are a sort of nylon or plastic strip that goes between the tire and tube. I believe they first came out in the eighties for bmx bikes, but are now available for mountain and road bikes. They do add some weight to the wheel, unfortunately.

    I live in a desert-y suburban area north of Los Angeles, California, where there are plenty of less-traveled desert and mountain roads. There are also quite a few community bike paths, most often along the sides of, usually-dry, reservoir channels. So hopefully cars won't be too much of an issue. It's just that to get to some of these roads, you need to ride through some high-traffic areas. Of course, I could drive my car to where I'd like to ride.

    Anyone have any other advice. I'm all ears. Thanks again.
     
  8. McBain_v1

    McBain_v1 New Member

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    ...Is a mobile phone. If you have one, always make sure it's charged up and in working order.

    If you can try and buy a jersey with a waterproof mobile phone pocket (e.g. Endura WindTex), if not, stick it in a zip-lock bag and keep it handy. You never know whether you'll see an accident, be in one, or just need someone to come get ya if you suffer multiple punctures and exhaust your suppy of patches or replacement tubes ;)
     
  9. el Ingles

    el Ingles New Member

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    re traffic : wear the brightest colours you can so you don´t merge into the background , fit a rear flashing light for cloudy days when the light is flat and gray .
    Wear a helmet , always , and try on of those mirrors that stick to the side of helmet - not funky but very practical on roads with heavy traffic , ie trucks .
    if worried about wheels do think about tandem wheels as they are designed to cope with lots more than your weight and should not cost a fortune and be maintainable by any bike shop .
    try and get cycle insurance that covers medical and legal costs , here in europe this is often included in your federation subs.
    What ever you do you´ll get punctures but high tpi´s usually help .
    Welcome to our wonderfull world of pain and humiliation , re saddles that is , I´m afraid , trial , and I do mean trial , and experiment . but don´t get talked into something really thin - that´s for later .
    GET A HEART RATE MONITOR , it´s real easy to overdo it at first so get a cheap one ( the sigma sport range are fantastic for the price ) and keep a record - you´ll be able to look back and see how you´ve improved , one with zone time , avg hr and max hr will be perfect .
     
  10. J Pugh

    J Pugh New Member

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    "I live in a desert-y suburban area north of Los Angeles, California, where there are plenty of less-traveled desert and mountain roads. There are also quite a few community bike paths, most often along the sides of, usually-dry, reservoir channels. So hopefully cars won't be too much of an issue. It's just that to get to some of these roads, you need to ride through some high-traffic areas. Of course, I could drive my car to where I'd like to ride."

    Hi,

    As others have said, welcome to the club. I live south of LA (north Orange County) and have ridden all over So Cal. Everyone has given you great advice, the only new piece of info I would like to add is to join a local club. Our local club has "newbie" rides that are shorter in length, they teach the basics of riding with others, rules of the road and no one is ever dropped. After you graduate from the "newbie" rides, our club has two other groups of riders with varying lengths of rides as well as special training rides for things like "Ride Around the Bear" which I did last year. If there isn't a club that meets in your neighborhood, be willing to drive a little - our club meets about 14 miles away - so we do have to drive to the ride locations and drive back, but it is worth the comeraderie!

    As you said, sometimes it is better to drive to a safer starting point for a ride. If you aren't comfortable with the traffic, don't ride there yet. Wait until you are ready.

    Most of all, have fun.

    Jean
     
  11. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    I'm actually one of the minority of people left on this planet who have never owned a cell phone. Never had enough of a need for it to justify the cost. I'm definitely going to look into one after I get my bike. The rides I'm planning on doing are definitely not lined with payphones. Thanks.
     
  12. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    Thanks. I would definitely feel safer in a group. This would also be good because none of my friends ride.

    Speaking of Orange County, I love the Back Bay/UC Irvine bike route. I used to ride it on my mountain bike. Looking forward to riding it when I get my road bike and visit OC again!
     
  13. J Pugh

    J Pugh New Member

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    That is a great ride! Add a bit of Newport Coast each way and you have one great ride! Orange County is so cycle friendly with all the bike trails and bike lanes. And riding down PCH is another of the wonderful rides. Surf, sun, sand and flying down PCH. Let me know when you plan on riding down this way and maybe we can work something out, if you like, either with our club or just my husband, you and I. It would be fun!
     
  14. ozintokyo

    ozintokyo New Member

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    wolfgang - don't know if it makes you feel any better, but I used to be just over 130kgs (about 285lbs!!) a few years back when I started to get stuck back into cycling and running to start to try to shed it off.

    I'm now down to about 90kgs (just under 200lbs) and still working on it, oh, and my wheels are still perfectly round!! :D
     
  15. stealie72

    stealie72 New Member

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    Finally, another giant roadie!!!

    Others have addressed a lot of your concerns, but I'll add my 2 cents on the size thing. I'm 6'4 and fluctuate between 210 and 235 (210 with a lot of execise/diet, 235 when I'm lazy) and have been riding road bikes for years.

    Clydesdales like us ned to watch out for those ultra wimpy wheels with like 8 straight spokes. Get youself a standard cross-laced set and you should have no problems. I invested in a truing stand long ago so I could straighten up my wheels once in a while, because my wheels get wobbly before my 140lb buddy's do. I just hit things harder, I guess.

    Also, watch out for crankarms. I've managed to break two on my Mt Bike, but my road cranks seem to be holding up just fine. We probably shouldn't ride any of those 200 gram wonders made out of honeycomed spider webs.

    Unfortunately, the biggest downside for guys like us is the used market. Not as many 62-64cm bikes kicking around on the used market as 54-56cm bikes. Personally, I'm a bit of a retrogrouch (though I did just get a sweet deal on a LeMond), and don't see a huge need for all the newfangled delecate parts out there, so a solid Shimano 105 kit on a nice aluminum frame is fine with me. I'd avoid steel just starting out, unless you're looking for a $3000 type bike. Low end steel isn't so good.

    Oh, and don't be intimidated by all the gear/weight weenies in your local club. The lighest, most tricked out bike in the world isn't worth anything if you're not going to have fun riding it. In the end, get on the bike and turn your feet around and around on the pedals. That's 95% of it.
     
  16. waterboy420

    waterboy420 New Member

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    As far as saddles go, I am not the lightest guy in the world for my size either, and ride a stiff aluminum frame. I recently upgraded my saddle to a Selle Italia Prolink Gel Flow. My backside has never been happier on the road. The rubber bumpers and flex suspension on the front and rear of the seat suck up all of the little bumps in the road. Check it out, I have been very happy with mine. http://www.selleitalia.com/
     
  17. ::dom::

    ::dom:: New Member

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    I started cycling again, after many years with no bike, last Christmas. I bought a brand new 04 Specialized Sirrus Sport (basically a road bike with straight handlebars). On Christmas day I weighed 133kg and am now 10kg lighter (no diet but I cycle 15-20km, 3-4 times a week).

    The Sirrus is great. You ride in a more upright position and it has inbuilt suspension in the saddle (a real plus if you're just staring out - proper bike shorts are a must) and slight wider tyres.

    You will get saddle sore but it doesn't last long, 3 or 4 rides max.

    A road bike is a very different ride. You are in a more crouched position and the saddle will be harder and narrower. You'll have to concentrate much more and the tyres are narrower and have a less stable feel to a beginner.

    As I used to ride road bikes years ago I started to miss the "racing" position, so after much research, I've just purchased a Specialized Allez Comp. It arrives next week.... CAN'T WAIT!

    My 2cents, for what it's worth... Buy a good value hybrid (Trek, Specialized, Avanti all make excellent ones) and when you're ready, get a good road bike. You can either sell the hybrid or keep it as a commuter/sunday ride/run-about and use the road bike to clock up some serious Kms (and shed some serious Kgs).


    Hope this helps.
     
  18. ozintokyo

    ozintokyo New Member

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    Hey Dominic - congrats on the weight loss mate - that is good work. I was in the same position myself a few years back - around 130kgs.

    Mostly through riding/walking/jogging more than diet, I got down to a PB of 77kgs (which I actually thought was a little on the light side) and I have now gone back up to around 85-90kgs, but I have stabilised at around that weight - it feels good. (btw - don't go out buying any good clothes - you will be throwing them away soon enough!!)
     
  19. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    Wow! I've just checked back at this post after a couple months and I'm so surprised and delighted to see more helpful replies! I'd thought that after the initial replies, this post was probably "dead". I guess I'd better keep checking periodically.

    I haven't bought my bike yet, but it'll be any day now. I'm just waiting to find a good buy on Ebay. It seems the longer I wait and the more I look, the higher quality (and more expensive) of a bike I want. On the one hand, I don't feel I'm good enough for a high-end bike. On the other hand, I want something that I won't want to trade up for a better bike in a year or two.

    Thanks again for all the advice!
     
  20. oldseed

    oldseed New Member

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    for the love of god, BUY A BIKE NOW!! the spring's almost gone, summer's coming, and it's been 2 months since you've been pining for a ride.

    get a bike, any bike. the specialized allez you mentioned in the 1st post is a dandy. start riding!

    sd
     
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