Author Topic: Help becoming more of a badass biker  (Read 2754 times)

Trudie

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Help becoming more of a badass biker
« on: July 26, 2016, 10:31:52 AM »
After reading inspirational stories here of people upping their biking games, I've decided I want to do it -- not for commuting to work (too far, and not possible in a rural area), but as a primary form of exercise in the great outdoors and as a way of limiting time in the car on weekends. I am 45.  I would say I'm of above-average fitness for my age, but I'm not a page out of Fitness Magazine.  I work out 5-6 days a week, and up until a couple of months ago was doing a lot of running -- training for half marathons, a marathon, and several shorter races.  But then I burned out when I started having some hip flexor and hamstring problems.  That's when I started lifting more weights again and got back on my bike.  I enjoy punching out 15-16 miles on a weeknight after work, a few times a week.  I would like to supplement it with more biking to "get around"... I kind of think of it as functional fitness -- not the core of my routine but that little extra that is like icing on the cake.  I want to stay in decent shape, maybe lose a few pounds.  I see no joy in endless indoor fitness classes or hours spent on indoor cardio equipment, except when required in the dead of January.
What I enjoy about outdoor workouts (including running) is the feeling that I'm getting somewhere.  I enjoy the vistas, seeing birds and butterflies, wind and sun.  Even strong winds or cold add to the badassity, which I rather enjoy if dressed properly.

I have a decent Gary Fisher hybrid bike (my hubs and I got them as wedding gifts) that's about 20 years old.  I've paid someone else to maintain it, but have only forayed into more frequent biking the last 7-8 years.  Over the years I have outfitted it with a basic bike computer, lamp (to help with riding at dusk), and small paniers/carrier on the back.  I don't ride clipped in, and I prefer it this way when riding on trails with other people around who can be unpredictable.  I have access to some semi-challenging paved trails in my neck of the woods and also prefer riding on said trails or on streets with bike lanes in town where people go 25 MPH, max.  I don't want to venture on the highway.

I have pretty basic equipment -- a couple of pairs of padded bike shorts, helmet, gloves... flat shoes for riding.  I've wondered about a more cushy seat, or if I am just a wuss.

Also, I see this is training for my FIREd life.  I would like to think that I can someday use my bike to get groceries, go to the library, etcetera.  Now I use it to go to the Farmer's Market.  Hey - it's a start.

For the biking-initiated, what do you recommend for:
(1) Bike seats.  Cush or no cush?  How do you know when it properly fits your arse?
(2) Hauling stuff -- Bike trailer, or no?
(3) Taking onboard hydration units


I should add that the last part of my ride is a hellish hill -- the mother of all hills.  I usually just get off my bike and push it.  I used to feel bad about this, until last night I was passed by two of the cutest kids in the world and their mom and the little 7 year old said, "Getting up this hill is quite a chore, isn't it?  That's why I walk my bike too."  Such a little adult.  Adorable!



JJsfr

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2016, 12:18:32 PM »
I mean, at this point you just need to set a goal for what you think being more badass on a bike would be. If it's to do 100 mile rides, do that. If it's to make biking more of a regular part of your life, then just start doing it.

Cushioned saddles are only good for short rides. The distances you're doing you'll appreciate a firmer seat. It could be the saddle is not the right shape for you. Are you sitting far enough back in the saddle?

If you want to haul big stuff, get a bike trailer. Otherwise, big grocery bag paniers are sufficient for my weekly grocery run for 2.

If you're talking about water bottles with hydration units, I find two is good for me for rides up to 3 hours if it's hot.

In all seriousness, just stop driving places and telling yourself that you need to bike. If something that you can control gets in the way (I need to pick up more stuff than I have bag space for), address it. The physical fitness and weight loss should come with it and soon enough you'll be blasting up that hill.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2016, 12:24:47 PM by JJsfr »

Jack

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2016, 12:51:54 PM »
I should add that the last part of my ride is a hellish hill -- the mother of all hills.  I usually just get off my bike and push it.

Chances are, your hybrid has a triple crankset. A lot of people seem to forget to use the lowest gears, especially the smallest chain ring in the front. They're there for a reason, so shift to that granny gear and crank your way up that hill!

It was only slightly faster than walking pace and it just about killed me, but I managed to get my 35 lb. old rigid mountain bike with 3x6 gearing (i.e., equivalent to your hybrid) up this 22% max (!) grade (the street view doesn't do it justice). If I can do it, you can too.

(Granted, the 2x6 gearing on my wife's road bike made riding that hill completely impossible for her.)

Trudie

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2016, 12:56:45 PM »
All right.  Will crank her into granny gear soon and report back here.

JJsfr

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2016, 01:01:35 PM »
All right.  Will crank her into granny gear soon and report back here.

You'll be spinning your pedals and moving pretty slow, but that's normal. Good luck!

Trudie

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2016, 02:01:10 PM »
All right.  Will crank her into granny gear soon and report back here.

You'll be spinning your pedals and moving pretty slow, but that's normal. Good luck!

The thing is I never technically learned how to shift.  I just go by feel.

Jack

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2016, 02:20:03 PM »
All right.  Will crank her into granny gear soon and report back here.

You'll be spinning your pedals and moving pretty slow, but that's normal. Good luck!

The thing is I never technically learned how to shift.  I just go by feel.

If you find that your cadence dropping too low (below 70 RPMs), you should downshift. If you find that your cadence is too high, or if you try to pedal and there's no resistance, you should upshift. Ideally, you should look ahead to anticipate changes in grade and shift just before your cadence actually changes.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2016, 02:33:48 PM by Jack »

JJsfr

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2016, 02:53:01 PM »
All right.  Will crank her into granny gear soon and report back here.

You'll be spinning your pedals and moving pretty slow, but that's normal. Good luck!

The thing is I never technically learned how to shift.  I just go by feel.
You know how to shift but not when to shift.

Your pedal rate should be about 75 rotations per minute (per leg). If it's lower than this, you are burning yourself out. If it's too high, you're going to wind yourself (for now).

Your speed will vary but your RPM should remain constant. As jack said, try to plan ahead for your shifts, like upshift when approaching the base of hills.

Jack

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2016, 02:58:59 PM »
like upshift when approaching the base of hills.

You and I are using opposite definitions of "upshift." For me at least, upshifting means shifting to a harder gear to go faster, so I'd suggest downshifting when approaching the base of a hill.

Trudie

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2016, 03:00:44 PM »
I'm not going to go all out right now and buy a bike trailer, but if I decide to go in that direction what do you recommend?  I'd likely look on CL.

JJsfr

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2016, 11:15:26 PM »
like upshift when approaching the base of hills.

You and I are using opposite definitions of "upshift." For me at least, upshifting means shifting to a harder gear to go faster, so I'd suggest downshifting when approaching the base of a hill.

Upshift, downshift... Just make it easier as you approach hills. Not an engineer just somebody who pedals everywhere.  Thinking harder about it you're right. Downshift means go to lower gear.

jfer_rose

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2016, 06:39:48 AM »
Re: cush or no cush for saddles-- say no to the cush!!!

The most important thing for a saddle is that is supports your sit bones so your weight is on them and not your sensitive tissues. Most cushy saddles don't offer enough support. Assuming you are riding more than a mile or two at a time, you will suffer more from not having enough support than from a non-cushy saddle.

I use a leather saddle without any cushioning at all and find that I get sore for about a week when I get back into biking after a break. But that's it.

FLBiker

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2016, 07:31:51 AM »
Disclaimer: I tend to be fairly low-tech in my biking (I don't even have proper bike shorts) so take all this with a grain of salt.

I bike 10 miles everyday going to and from work.  I've also done some touring in some pretty mountainous places.  I've got the lowest end Gary Fisher -- aluminum, no shocks.

My seat is The Seat: https://www.amazon.com/Ergo-The-Seat-ERGO/
It may not be for everyone, but I switched about 5 years ago and I really like it.  For commuting.  I've never tried it for touring.  The only downside is that you give up some of your ability to control your bike with your hips, so I wouldn't recommend it for trailriding.  It makes it way harder to ride with no hands as well.

For carrying stuff (like my backpack) I'm a huge fan of having a milk crate attached to a rear shelf.  For me, it's way more convenient than panniers.  It's definitely not lighter, but I'm doing this (in part) for exercise, so who cares?  I've never used a trailer, but supposedly a neighbor is giving us one soon and I'm looking forward to trying it out.  I've carried large rucksacks w/ several days worth of water on my rear shelf, though.  W/ a shelf, I use locking nuts.  W/ regular ones, they would loosen.

I wear a reflective vest everyday.  Dollar General is a good place to get them (Home Depot is not).  I also have loads of reflectors / reflective stickers on my bike.

I love this mirror: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003LVHZ4O/
It's expensive ($40) but I've had mine for 8 years and it's still going strong.  And I've hit the pavement twice during that time.

I have no experience w/ onboard hydration (other than hauling large containers of water).  A camelbak would be useful when touring, but it's overkill for my commute.

Good luck!

PhillyWill

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Re: Help becoming more of a badass biker
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2016, 12:50:56 PM »
     I used to sell and repair Gary Fishers, I'm glad to hear that yours have had such long & productive lives! If you have any friends who ride bikes (or a favorite mechanic), ask one of them to walk you through how the shifting works. Holding the bike up off the ground and seeing how the derailleurs move the chain around can be very informative. If you're having trouble shifting into all of the gears you'd like to use then it's time for some maintenance, DIY or otherwise.

+1 to Jack, most hybrid bikes come with gearing that goes low enough to scale a cliff.

     A trailer can be an excellent choice for carrying a ton of cargo without making your bike harder to handle. Cargo panniers can be a cheaper alternative, it sounds like you've had a good experience with your current pannier setup. You may be able to mount a cargo rack & panniers on the front as well, assuming your fork is drilled for it. Let me know if you have trouble telling this. I've toured with both panniers and a trailer. My personal preference is for the trailer but that's because I'm not looking at shelling out $300 for a new one :).

     Where hydration is concerned, please do. You should be able to mount at least two water bottle cages inside the front triangle of the frame with the pre-drillled and threaded studs. If these have rusted out, you can get an adapter to replace them. Camelbak-style hydration packs can be neat, but of course they cost more than basic water bottles.

     Be sure you have a bright, annoying blinky light in the rear if you ever ride in traffic. Rear visibility is very important when there are cars involved. It never hurts to double up on these. Many people will run one on the seatpost/rack and one on the back of their helmet.

     Try a few different saddles. Firmer is typically better for real (read-not beach cruiser for 10 min) riding, it's the shape that really determines individual comfort. Many shops have a trial program where you can try a bunch of different saddles for a week at a time. Also, try hitting the used parts bin. You might find a good deal on a barely-used saddle that just didn't properly fit somebody else's butt.
     

     Keep the rubber side down!