Author Topic: "Do you recognize that you are fortunate to have the bike commute option?"  (Read 27347 times)

Baron235

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Unrideable roads is scary, but as others have pointed out, it can be overcome, and every day I see people riding on all sorts of facilities. Today (I drove today) I saw a guy in a full suit riding a folding bike on a 2-lane 80 km/h road. His jacket and tie were streaming out behind him, and he had a messenger bag swinging from his back. Was he living on the edge? according to some here that is foolhardy, but he was fine. We have a very exaggerated estimate of how dangerous life is. Cycling isn't such a deadly thing as you would think - you just have to remember the rules of the road and stick to them - even on those busy roads. If the roads are too scary, then find a trail or alternate route - they always exist. And yes, I mean always. Your alternate may be a block or two on a bus or on an inconvenient route, but again, convenient is often another word for expensive.

And yesterday, as I was (driving) home at 6 pm on my street - a hilly, winding street. One lane in each direction, residential, double yellow, 25 mph zone with speed bumps (because of the school nearby) - what did I experience.

A woman in a Mini Cooper, who apparently thought that 27 mph in a 25 mph zone was not fast enough, so she proceeded to pass me on the left (double yellow, no visibility!!)  I freaked out on her and followed her blaring my horn.  She either (1) thinks I'm nuts or (2) will think twice about passing on a double yellow.

The thing is, it's not the first time I've witnessed this - always during a commute (morning or evening).  Last year a teenager was struck crossing a street because someone was impatient and passed on the left and hit him.  My child walks to school and crosses that street.  The neighbors kids walk their dogs, ride their bikes or skateboards up and down that street.  And all so that you could get home 30 seconds faster?  Seriously she was less than 10 houses from home.  I'm still pissed and I'm not sure if I want to knock on her door, leave her a note, or what (and she's 70 years old - she should know better!!)

So when will I let my kids walk to school or bike on that street by themselves?  Never.
There is no alternate, it's the street I live on.  I just didn't realize that we have a few a*holes in the neighborhood.


I agree that  I wouldn't let my kids walk, but going back to the OP, it has nothing to do with fortune.  It has everything to do with you wanting to live on that street. 

MoneyCat

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One thing to keep in mind when you commute by bicycle is that your body can be in "the shop" occasionally just like a car, so always make sure you have an alternative way to get to work.  I pulled a muscle in my leg last night and I can't ride a bicycle today.  Luckily, I'm not working today, but something like that could be a problem if a bicycle was my only method of transportation.  Better to be prepared than to be sorry, always.

mm1970

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Unrideable roads is scary, but as others have pointed out, it can be overcome, and every day I see people riding on all sorts of facilities. Today (I drove today) I saw a guy in a full suit riding a folding bike on a 2-lane 80 km/h road. His jacket and tie were streaming out behind him, and he had a messenger bag swinging from his back. Was he living on the edge? according to some here that is foolhardy, but he was fine. We have a very exaggerated estimate of how dangerous life is. Cycling isn't such a deadly thing as you would think - you just have to remember the rules of the road and stick to them - even on those busy roads. If the roads are too scary, then find a trail or alternate route - they always exist. And yes, I mean always. Your alternate may be a block or two on a bus or on an inconvenient route, but again, convenient is often another word for expensive.

And yesterday, as I was (driving) home at 6 pm on my street - a hilly, winding street. One lane in each direction, residential, double yellow, 25 mph zone with speed bumps (because of the school nearby) - what did I experience.

A woman in a Mini Cooper, who apparently thought that 27 mph in a 25 mph zone was not fast enough, so she proceeded to pass me on the left (double yellow, no visibility!!)  I freaked out on her and followed her blaring my horn.  She either (1) thinks I'm nuts or (2) will think twice about passing on a double yellow.

The thing is, it's not the first time I've witnessed this - always during a commute (morning or evening).  Last year a teenager was struck crossing a street because someone was impatient and passed on the left and hit him.  My child walks to school and crosses that street.  The neighbors kids walk their dogs, ride their bikes or skateboards up and down that street.  And all so that you could get home 30 seconds faster?  Seriously she was less than 10 houses from home.  I'm still pissed and I'm not sure if I want to knock on her door, leave her a note, or what (and she's 70 years old - she should know better!!)

So when will I let my kids walk to school or bike on that street by themselves?  Never.
There is no alternate, it's the street I live on.  I just didn't realize that we have a few a*holes in the neighborhood.


I agree that  I wouldn't let my kids walk, but going back to the OP, it has nothing to do with fortune.  It has everything to do with you wanting to live on that street.
In my defense, I didn't realize there were 70 year old a*holes on the street when I bought the house, and I also didn't have children then either.

I feel perfectly comfortable biking on the street, but only alone, not with the kids. 

Cpa Cat

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But the whole "hard work and exercise isn't for everyone" undercurrent to this thread is in my opinion, bologna. I'm sure that if CPA Cat didn't own a car, she would have found a way to make the bike commute work.

And in my opinion, driving to work/school is a privilege. It's something to consider doing only after you get close to FI and have extra cash to burn. The person who can afford to drive to campus (or even own a car in grad school) sounds pretty fortunate to me.

Err. I'm a little late to the party, since I went on vacation. But actually, I did not purchase a parking pass, so I was unable to drive to school. I took the bus. It usually took a full hour of walking to the bus stop + waiting + bus moving, but involved fewer near-death experiences.

I was also fortunate to have returned to school for my second career. I owned a car and a bike and a house and paid my college tuition because I worked for it. I daresay I even "worked hard." I "worked hard" all the way to FI and early retirement, despite my bicycle-related shortcomings.

In fact, I also exercise. I do Zumba. I garden. I walk. But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

While on vacation, I foolishly volunteered to embark on a kayaking expedition. It turns out that I suck at powering kayaks with my arms about as badly as I suck at powering bikes with my legs. So I guess that's out as a commuting option, too. I'm sure it's super duper easy for you, though, so feel free to endorse it as an easy alternative to highway biking.

TRBeck

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

NoraLenderbee

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MMM is not a religion and biking to work is not a sacrament. If someone tries riding and hates it, or feels sick from it, they should be able to quit without being judged or belittled. 

Cpa Cat

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

I see. So when our monkey ancestors jumped down from the trees, they had a bike waiting for them? My mistake. I totally assumed most female bodies were made for generating babies and engaging in gathering - generally at a slow pace due to the care of young. But now I see my mistake - I was actually built for cycling. I will be sure to take a moment to chastise myself for being so lazy as to be a slow, sweaty, heat-stroke prone cyclist.

If I had a time machine, I would also travel back in time and kick my third-grade self in the behind for always being picked last for sports. Alas... I don't think one exists. Unless those cycling monkeys also invented that?

vhalros

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It seems like it requires relatively lower power output from parts of the body that are fairly good at generating power. Given appropriate infrastructure (that is, infrastructure which doesn't compel you to try and keep up with automobile traffic, which admittedly, we have very little of in the US), even many elderly and some disabled people are able physically able to bicycle. Going a few miles just doesn't require a high level of physical fitness.

Of course, that being said, if a person dislikes it, I can't think of that many reasons they should do it. The cost savings are not worth significant suffering.

Cpa Cat

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Well, I've said my piece. My position was simply that one should not assume that biking is as easy for everyone as it is for you.

The majority opinion is that I am incorrect (also lazy, unfit, and doing it wrong). So be it.

Best of luck in your endeavors.

If you try a little harder, you should be able to win the Tour de France. There's really nothing stopping you. The prize will certainly help you along in your FIRE goals.

vhalros

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Well, you tried it. I have no reason to doubt your subjective experience. The heat certainly does make it much more difficult, as do hills, headwinds, etc.

GuitarStv

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If you try a little harder, you should be able to win the Tour de France. There's really nothing stopping you. The prize will certainly help you along in your FIRE goals.

That's what I'm hoping . . .

mm1970

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

I see. So when our monkey ancestors jumped down from the trees, they had a bike waiting for them? My mistake. I totally assumed most female bodies were made for generating babies and engaging in gathering - generally at a slow pace due to the care of young. But now I see my mistake - I was actually built for cycling. I will be sure to take a moment to chastise myself for being so lazy as to be a slow, sweaty, heat-stroke prone cyclist.

If I had a time machine, I would also travel back in time and kick my third-grade self in the behind for always being picked last for sports. Alas... I don't think one exists. Unless those cycling monkeys also invented that?
It's interesting that you point this out.  I used to bike to work 1-2x a week, and would like to do so again.

But at 10 miles, it takes me very close to an hour, when you factor in a few hills and traffic lights.

Both my bosses are avid cyclists, as in multi-thousand dollar bicycles, rides up over the mountains, 100+ mile bike rides.

One of them recently said "your problem is that you ride in too high a gear, you need to spin your legs faster, etc. etc. etc."

My philosophy is this - I am riding a ~17 year old, cheap hybrid bike.  It was $250.  I replaced the back gears already, but the front gears are sort of broken.  And they aren't fixable.  So if I ride in the hardest gear, I am limited on how fast I can spin, even at the lower back gears.  If I switch to the middle gear, the bike won't switch back.  I'd rather ride in the hardest gear and just suffer up the hills.

But also - my build.  I am short and stocky and I "mash" on the pedals because I don't have clips on my bike.  My bosses are both tall (6') and skinny.  I have found that my joints don't particularly like "spinning", even in a spin class.  100 rpm just does NOT feel good, no matter how low the resistance is.  And I've tried, many times.  I have a strong tendency towards knee injuries when I try to spin too fast.

shelivesthedream

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It seems like it requires relatively lower power output from parts of the body that are fairly good at generating power. Given appropriate infrastructure (that is, infrastructure which doesn't compel you to try and keep up with automobile traffic, which admittedly, we have very little of in the US), even many elderly and some disabled people are able physically able to bicycle. Going a few miles just doesn't require a high level of physical fitness.

Of course, that being said, if a person dislikes it, I can't think of that many reasons they should do it. The cost savings are not worth significant suffering.

I do think that every able-bodied person has an almost moral obligation to try cycling (for errands if their commute is crazy-long), and for a period of one to three months rather than giving up after one ride (it took me three months to comfortably build up to my old 6.5 mile commute from zero exercise). If you still hate it/can't make it work after that then you can give up with a clear conscience. I'm a bit of a fair weather cyclist - heavy rain or high temperatures (above 22 degrees) send me scurrying back to the bus - but in England our climate is pretty moderate so that doesn't happen too often.

GuitarStv

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

I see. So when our monkey ancestors jumped down from the trees, they had a bike waiting for them? My mistake. I totally assumed most female bodies were made for generating babies and engaging in gathering - generally at a slow pace due to the care of young. But now I see my mistake - I was actually built for cycling. I will be sure to take a moment to chastise myself for being so lazy as to be a slow, sweaty, heat-stroke prone cyclist.

If I had a time machine, I would also travel back in time and kick my third-grade self in the behind for always being picked last for sports. Alas... I don't think one exists. Unless those cycling monkeys also invented that?
It's interesting that you point this out.  I used to bike to work 1-2x a week, and would like to do so again.

But at 10 miles, it takes me very close to an hour, when you factor in a few hills and traffic lights.

Both my bosses are avid cyclists, as in multi-thousand dollar bicycles, rides up over the mountains, 100+ mile bike rides.

One of them recently said "your problem is that you ride in too high a gear, you need to spin your legs faster, etc. etc. etc."

My philosophy is this - I am riding a ~17 year old, cheap hybrid bike.  It was $250.  I replaced the back gears already, but the front gears are sort of broken.  And they aren't fixable.  So if I ride in the hardest gear, I am limited on how fast I can spin, even at the lower back gears.  If I switch to the middle gear, the bike won't switch back.  I'd rather ride in the hardest gear and just suffer up the hills.

But also - my build.  I am short and stocky and I "mash" on the pedals because I don't have clips on my bike.  My bosses are both tall (6') and skinny.  I have found that my joints don't particularly like "spinning", even in a spin class.  100 rpm just does NOT feel good, no matter how low the resistance is.  And I've tried, many times.  I have a strong tendency towards knee injuries when I try to spin too fast.

If your bike is broken and not fixable, it's probably worth finding a bike that isn't broken.  Gearing exists for the comfort and efficiency of the rider.  Particularly if you've got knee injuries . . . it's harder on the joints to mash the pedals.

You don't need clips on your bike to pedal efficiently.  A cheap pair of studded pedals will grip your foot very securely and still allow you to use regular shoes on your ride.

Sam E

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

I see. So when our monkey ancestors jumped down from the trees, they had a bike waiting for them? My mistake. I totally assumed most female bodies were made for generating babies and engaging in gathering - generally at a slow pace due to the care of young. But now I see my mistake - I was actually built for cycling. I will be sure to take a moment to chastise myself for being so lazy as to be a slow, sweaty, heat-stroke prone cyclist.

If I had a time machine, I would also travel back in time and kick my third-grade self in the behind for always being picked last for sports. Alas... I don't think one exists. Unless those cycling monkeys also invented that?
It's interesting that you point this out.  I used to bike to work 1-2x a week, and would like to do so again.

But at 10 miles, it takes me very close to an hour, when you factor in a few hills and traffic lights.

Both my bosses are avid cyclists, as in multi-thousand dollar bicycles, rides up over the mountains, 100+ mile bike rides.

One of them recently said "your problem is that you ride in too high a gear, you need to spin your legs faster, etc. etc. etc."

My philosophy is this - I am riding a ~17 year old, cheap hybrid bike.  It was $250.  I replaced the back gears already, but the front gears are sort of broken.  And they aren't fixable.  So if I ride in the hardest gear, I am limited on how fast I can spin, even at the lower back gears.  If I switch to the middle gear, the bike won't switch back.  I'd rather ride in the hardest gear and just suffer up the hills.

But also - my build.  I am short and stocky and I "mash" on the pedals because I don't have clips on my bike.  My bosses are both tall (6') and skinny.  I have found that my joints don't particularly like "spinning", even in a spin class.  100 rpm just does NOT feel good, no matter how low the resistance is.  And I've tried, many times.  I have a strong tendency towards knee injuries when I try to spin too fast.

What you're describing sounds like your seat is too low. What's your leg extension like? At the bottom of the pedal stroke your knee should only have about a 10 degree bend (just shy of a straight, locked leg, essentially). This applies to any bike type. If your legs aren't getting full extension then you're causing a lot of undue strain on your muscles and knees that would make spinning fast exceedingly uncomfortable.

There are some bike sizing calculators that I've found extremely helpful for getting my bike fit correct on this website: http://www.ebicycles.com/

TRBeck

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

I see. So when our monkey ancestors jumped down from the trees, they had a bike waiting for them? My mistake. I totally assumed most female bodies were made for generating babies and engaging in gathering - generally at a slow pace due to the care of young. But now I see my mistake - I was actually built for cycling. I will be sure to take a moment to chastise myself for being so lazy as to be a slow, sweaty, heat-stroke prone cyclist.

If I had a time machine, I would also travel back in time and kick my third-grade self in the behind for always being picked last for sports. Alas... I don't think one exists. Unless those cycling monkeys also invented that?

I've read some overly defensive stuff on these forums, but this is near the top.

In between births, do you suppose your monkey ancestors moved? Were all the females just waiting in stationary positions when they weren't delivering babies? Or did they sit all the time in awkward positions that are impossible to achieve without backed chairs, like you do in a car? Was your body built for continuously pushing a gas pedal? For sitting and turning a steering wheel? Are these ludicrous rhetorical questions that prove nothing? You are built to move. Humans are built to move. The gluteus maximus did not develop so that it felt better to sit on our asses. Of course our ancient ancestors didn't ride bicycles, but then, that wasn't my point. My point was that your muscles do exist for, among other purposes, locomotion.

Appealing to what one's body is built for is probably not the best way to argue in favor of driving a car, seeing as how whatever else the monkeys were doing to track down food, they sure as shit weren't driving.

Oh, and I was picked last for sports, too. Not sure it has any bearing on being able to ride a bike now.

Cycling, like driving, is a skill, and sometimes it is helpful to have instruction, practice, and outside assistance in getting better at it, which is what most of the posters in this thread have offered, my previous post notwithstanding. I realize we've gone far afield of the original topic, though, so apologies to the OP.

cerebus

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There's so much complainypantsing going on in this thread right now it's difficult to read. Too short, too sweaty, piece of crap bike... I'm also a short and stocky build (5"7), and my first bike was this awful supermarket Raleigh that probably cost $100 new and constantly broke. I got through those things because I meant business with the cycling. This morning it was bloody cold and I pressed through it. Last night it was so windy I got an earache when I got back inside, and it hasn't stopped me.

If you don't want to cycle, it's fine, just don't do it. But don't bellyache with all the reasons and excuses for why you can't because unless you have some kind of serious medical condition, I'm just not going to be the tiniest bit sympathetic.

Sam E

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Are there people in this thread really using shortness as an excuse? I didn't notice that. My little sister is 4'11" and she can bike 10 miles. Though, she's slower than I am because she doesn't bike as much as I do. But it's nothing to do with her build or gender, she's just not as practiced.

shelivesthedream

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Are there people in this thread really using shortness as an excuse? I didn't notice that. My little sister is 4'11" and she can bike 10 miles. Though, she's slower than I am because she doesn't bike as much as I do. But it's nothing to do with her build or gender, she's just not as practiced.

I'm 5' 2" and can cycle just fine (on a bike that FITS ME PROPERLY). As a woman I will never be able to go as far or as fast as men, but that's fine because it's NOT A COMPETITION, it's a MEANS OF TRANSPORT.

mm1970

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But powering vehicles with my muscle strength is not what my body is built for.

And here I was almost starting to feel sympathetic toward your position. This is exactly what your body is built for. It's what every body is built for. Else we'd have died out long before the first motorized vehicles came into being.

I support the idea that some people live in situations in which cycling is untenable. I do not support the idea that people with working limbs simply physically can't.

I see. So when our monkey ancestors jumped down from the trees, they had a bike waiting for them? My mistake. I totally assumed most female bodies were made for generating babies and engaging in gathering - generally at a slow pace due to the care of young. But now I see my mistake - I was actually built for cycling. I will be sure to take a moment to chastise myself for being so lazy as to be a slow, sweaty, heat-stroke prone cyclist.

If I had a time machine, I would also travel back in time and kick my third-grade self in the behind for always being picked last for sports. Alas... I don't think one exists. Unless those cycling monkeys also invented that?
It's interesting that you point this out.  I used to bike to work 1-2x a week, and would like to do so again.

But at 10 miles, it takes me very close to an hour, when you factor in a few hills and traffic lights.

Both my bosses are avid cyclists, as in multi-thousand dollar bicycles, rides up over the mountains, 100+ mile bike rides.

One of them recently said "your problem is that you ride in too high a gear, you need to spin your legs faster, etc. etc. etc."

My philosophy is this - I am riding a ~17 year old, cheap hybrid bike.  It was $250.  I replaced the back gears already, but the front gears are sort of broken.  And they aren't fixable.  So if I ride in the hardest gear, I am limited on how fast I can spin, even at the lower back gears.  If I switch to the middle gear, the bike won't switch back.  I'd rather ride in the hardest gear and just suffer up the hills.

But also - my build.  I am short and stocky and I "mash" on the pedals because I don't have clips on my bike.  My bosses are both tall (6') and skinny.  I have found that my joints don't particularly like "spinning", even in a spin class.  100 rpm just does NOT feel good, no matter how low the resistance is.  And I've tried, many times.  I have a strong tendency towards knee injuries when I try to spin too fast.

If your bike is broken and not fixable, it's probably worth finding a bike that isn't broken.  Gearing exists for the comfort and efficiency of the rider.  Particularly if you've got knee injuries . . . it's harder on the joints to mash the pedals.

You don't need clips on your bike to pedal efficiently.  A cheap pair of studded pedals will grip your foot very securely and still allow you to use regular shoes on your ride.
Eh, I have 7 working gears.  And technically, I can easily shift DOWN on the front gears, but just not back UP.  So I choose to stay in the high gear.  The bike ride probably only has 2 hills where I really wish I could shift down further.  And they all small.  I always keep my eye open for a used bike that may work better, but I'm not searching.  My younger child has been asking for a helmet (at first I thought he wanted hummus).  So I guess I'm keeping my eye out for a bike trailer too.

On another note, I did ride to work today, for the first time in either 1 or 2 years (cannot remember!!)  I missed it.  Long ago I came to the decision that I cannot really listen to other people either.  My bosses' experience on a bike are not going to match mine because I'm not a hard core cyclist and I never will be.  I kind of meander to work on my bike at 10-13 mph.  I work up a little bit of a sweat, cool down at work, change, and go on with my day.  My experience is not their experience.  (Likewise with running. I've always wanted to be a runner.  I have friends who are distance runners.  I'd love to do that.  But I'm short and stocky.  And I found that training for the 1/2 marathons in my late 30's pretty much wrecked my joints and body.)  So I wonder sometimes, do my slender friends run distance because it's their "build" and their body type?  Or do they have that body type because they run?  Probably a little bit of both.

Sorry for the philosophy, I'm in the middle of reading "Born to Run" as my nighttime reading.

« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 09:42:20 AM by mm1970 »

mm1970

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What you're describing sounds like your seat is too low. What's your leg extension like? At the bottom of the pedal stroke your knee should only have about a 10 degree bend (just shy of a straight, locked leg, essentially). This applies to any bike type. If your legs aren't getting full extension then you're causing a lot of undue strain on your muscles and knees that would make spinning fast exceedingly uncomfortable.

There are some bike sizing calculators that I've found extremely helpful for getting my bike fit correct on this website: http://www.ebicycles.com/

Thanks for the tips.  The seat is as high as it can go, and it's pretty close to the right position.  It might be a tiny bit low.  (I have been fitted on stationary bikes, so I am familiar with the right setup).

There are many reasons why people don't like to bike.  What people miss in my comments is that I actually *do* like to bike, used to do it regularly, and I miss it, but my biggest issue right now is time - biking to work takes time that I don't have while working full time.  Any day I bike, I have to take PTO from work (unless like this week, when I magically have worked an extra couple of hours already).