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Old 03-24-2007, 04:48 PM
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Default Cycling

In the interest of spending more time outside, getting and staying fit and just generally adding to my short list of hobbies, I've decided to start cycling. One of my (soon to be ex-) co-workers is really into it, as are many others in Austin. There's always some kind of biking event going on around here, including marathons and charity rides, etc. I already know it can be an expensive hobby, but I think it'll be worth it.

I know you're a big fan of cycling, Clutch, so I look forward to your input.

Anyone else?
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

I used to cycle a lot, though I've never entered any official events. I'm getting back into the saddle this year - one of my resolutions for this year is to do a hundred miles on at least one day.
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Better a saddle than a banana seat.
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:06 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Excellent! Feel free to use this thread to talk about your equipment*, experiences, etc.


*No, Lees. Not that equipment. :glare:
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

It needn't be an expensive hobby, unless you want it to be, or you want to engage in top-level racing. You can pick up some excellent second-hand bikes at very reasonable prices.

The bike I use most at the moment is a cheap-ish mountain bike that I've fitted with road tyres. I like the upright riding position for gentle touring and admiring the views over the hedges. I have a 'racing bike' too, but it's about twenty years old now. It has Campag gear - all probably obsolete now.

If I do manage to get back into cycling properly, I might treat myself to a new touring bike - something that I'd be proud to take on a fortnight's touring holiday. I don't need such a bike though - if money were tight, I'd just get some cheap luggage to bolt onto my mountain bike.
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Well, I'm not really a cyclist. I'm just a guy who likes to ride his bike a lot.

Which is maybe a way of saying that it's important to find people who ride the way you want to, rather than trying to adapt your riding to a group.
I've found there's a good bit of snobbery and provincialism among cyclists, with each kind of rider thinking the others are missing the point. Hopefully you won't encounter anything like that. But just in case, I'd advise you to keep reminding yourself that any way you like to ride is a good way to ride. Stopping every 2 km to have a coffee and croissant? Excellent. Head down, flat out, 100 km straight, peeing off the saddle? Go for it. And anything in between.

Do you have a bike already?
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Old 03-24-2007, 06:12 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

A friend of ours works at a bike shop, and he forewarned us of the BIG spring sale. My wife's bike got stolen before I met her, and mine was built practically in the Paleolithic as these things go, so we got new bikes last weekend--she got a Trek and I git a new Globe. Hybrids--we plan to do some bike paths around here with the kids, as the youngest are about to start taking off their training wheels this summer. Several good bike paths around here--many of the old 19th century single rail tracks have been converted to bike paths. We live about a mile from the Washington Secondary--we could ride all the way up to Providence.

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Old 03-24-2007, 07:40 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clutch Munny
Do you have a bike already?
I do, but it's a clunky mountain bike. I think I'd like to get a decent lightweight touring bike - hopefully in the $500 US or less range.
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Old 03-24-2007, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

You can probably do it for $500 if you go used. But if you want new, and can talk yourself into spend a few hundred more, both the Fuji Touring and the Jamis Aurora look like brilliant over-performers in the $800s range.

I've test-ridden the Jamis, and it's great. (I went with a Devinci Destination, which is probably a slightly less capable tourer than the Jamis, but a bit more all-terrain -- and is Canadian.) The Aurora and the Touring are both cromoly steel frames (the Aurora's is particularly top-notch). This may seem a bit of a throwback in these days of aluminum, titanium and carbon fibre frames, but steel is still the shit when it comes to mixing strength and comfort. It is springy enough to dissipate some of the nad-bruising effect when the road gets rough, but probably won't flex enough to waste your energy when you stand up and pedal hard.

Anyhow, I'll be curious to see what you end up with.
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Old 03-24-2007, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

I don't have the nerve to ride around in city traffic anymore. I have a nice racing bike, which I paid around $800 for in 1980. Its tires are about 1/2" wide and it weighs about 19 pounds. I used to be a cycling maniac; I didn't even get my driver's license until I was about 25, when I absolutely had to. Before that, I rode everywhere.

If I was buying a bike today, I'd get a Trek because it's a Wisconsin company, and I've ridden a few of their road bikes, and they're really, really nice (although what I'd be looking at would be around 1100 bucks probably).

With bicycles, the more you pay, the less you get, in terms of weight and extraneous crap. Definitely spend the extra dough if you have it. Five hundred bucks won't get you much, but an extra 300 will get you a hell of a lot more.
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Old 03-24-2007, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

I LOVE cycling, even though I am not very fast (12-15 mph). I started out with a mountain bike that was not in particularly good shape, fat tires and all--and that worked fine for starting out (if you are a glutton for punishment, like I am). If you start out with your mountain bike, you will truly appreciate your new bike.

Right now, I have a Bianchi Brava that was about $770 new. It is a steel frame with a carbon fork in the front, iirc. I love this bike, and wouldn't ride anything beside it now. Used can be a really good deal if the bike fits you--my dad was given a Cannondale that needed overhauling and so ended up with a superfast amazing bike for something like $80 (the cost to put new cables on the bike and tune it up a little).

If you're just starting out, a hybrid might be a good choice--you can get a new one for under $400. It will be faster than the mountain bike but heavier than a road/touring bike. That can make it discouraging if you are trying to keep up with people on road/touring bikes, but it is less intimidating than those bikes to ride IMO. Of course, then you might end up with a hybrid and a road bike. Ha.

I mostly ride with my parents back home on our rural roads or at recreational/charity events.

All you really need to get started with the bike you have is a helmet, a good pair of bike shorts, some sunglasses, and bike gloves (one experience of using my hands to prevent my face from sliding down the asphalt and I won't ride without them). If you decide that you like what you're doing, then you'll probably want a new bike.

Well, technically all you need to get started is a helmet. I did my first real ride (26 miles) without gloves or padded shorts and had a great time. For sunglasses, I wear safety sunglasses that my dad uses for work--you can get them at Walmart etc for $3, and you don't have to worry about them.

Ok, this ended up being long. Sorry!
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:05 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Oh, and raise your right hand if you've ever ridden into the back of a parked car.
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Old 03-24-2007, 11:03 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Scarlatti View Post
Oh, and raise your right hand if you've ever ridden into the back of a parked car.
:hands1:

One time only, when I'd first started regularly commuting. I turned a corner on a residential street "at speed", and found someone parked right there. Fortunately I was able to grab the brakes just before I hit, and slowed down enough that I didn't re-geometrize the front rim -- though I did a pretty spectacular frontal dismount onto the trunk of the car.
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Scarlatti View Post
Oh, and raise your right hand if you've ever ridden into the back of a parked car.
many times as a kid......but not since i got my first set of eye glasses. I got found out at the dmv when I went to get my learners liscence. mandatory vision testing isnt a bad thing.

my freinds just used to think I was stupid crashing my bike into stuff all the time, i damaged quite few cars that way.
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Old 03-24-2007, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildernesse View Post
a good pair of bike shorts
Listen to the dancing monkey!

This is very, very important. Don't cheap out on the bike shorts, or be embarrassed to wear them. ("Smuggling grapes?" asked a guy on my hockey team.)

Get a pair with a genuine chammy insert -- not a loose chunk of foam floating around inside. It is impossible to overemphasize the huge difference this can make to your enjoyment of cycling. If there are any activities that become more fun once your scrotum is raw and bleeding, be assured that cycling is not among them.

Oh, and I'd advise a road bike with a slightly relaxed geometry/riding position -- like pretty much any touring bike will have -- instead of a hybrid. Wildy's right that some folks feel intimidated by the road handlebars (I was), but remember: the tops of road bars can be used just like flat bars, while the "hoods" (the grips where the brake levers stick out) and the "drops" (the bottom parts down near the ends of the bars) provide different grip positions and different amounts of back-stretch when you start to get some aches in your back and numb spots on your hands. So multi-positional bars are really, really useful, for reasons that will be very obvious after you've been riding for thirty minutes (or for six hours!) but won't even occur to you when you take the bike for a spin around the parking lot of the bike shop.
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Old 03-24-2007, 11:14 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Good points, Clutch.

Yes, you need some good cycling shorts. More than one pair if you're doing a lot of riding, so you always have a clean pair available.

What are you guys using for shoes and clips? My racer still has the old sort with leather straps. I wonder about the modern alternatives, but I want something I can walk about in when I get off the bike.
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Old 03-24-2007, 11:20 PM
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Toe clips are essential, not too tight, not too loose. I always wanted a pair of actual cycling shoes, but never got around to getting any (they're expensive). Anything with a good firm sole works. Most sneakers don't. I had a couple of pairs of ... not exactly dress shoes, but very simple, flat shoes with plastic soles. They were lime green with translucent soles, and awesome. I miss them. Also you need a nice, compact backpack, nylon, very light. For carrying your wallet and your smokes.

I admit to one spectacular header into a parked car. Also, I've had a few close calls. Watch out when it starts to rain. Drivers turn into instant morons. I was flying down King St. in Hamilton one time, and a guy opened his driver's side door right in front of me. I swerved to the left instinctively and just about went under the wheels of a bus.

Speaking of buses this one time I had just bought a brand new pump. Again, I was flying down King St., and a heard *clink* *clink* ... my new pump had fallen off the frame of my bike. I looked behind me to see a city bus flattening it.

One thing about riding in the city. Jocelyn Lovell was an Olympic cyclist from Canada, and he was killed riding in Toronto. So if an Olympic cyclist can get killed in the city, so can you. Never trust drivers. They are mostly assholes, they are not paying attention to you, and they do not share your concerns.
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Old 03-25-2007, 12:15 AM
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Default Re: Cycling

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Originally Posted by ceptimus View Post
What are you guys using for shoes and clips? My racer still has the old sort with leather straps. I wonder about the modern alternatives, but I want something I can walk about in when I get off the bike.
I use clipless pedals. (Note to vm: strangely, "clipless" means "pedals you clip into, rather than pedals with straps", and not "plain old flat pedals". Plain old flat pedals are usually called "flat pedals" or "platforms" now.)

There are many models of cycling shoe nowadays that have a recessed cleat (the metal bit on your shoe that snaps into the clip) and deep treads; they tend to look like skateboard shoes. So you can walk around just fine without (a) falling on slippery floors, (b) making clickity-clack noises or (c) destroying the cleat. I have a pair of Adidas that I can very comfortably spend the day in, if I have to. Of course, they're not as light as road shoes, but then it's easy enough to get a set of road shoes too, if that's really important.

I like the clipless pedals a lot. (I have Shimano SPDs.) They have a bit of "float" so you can get a bit of micro-adjustment as you ride and save your knees. Unclipping very quickly becomes second nature; having done the infamous "horizontal track stand" once in front of my house, I've been fine ever since -- including in traffic.

ETA:
Pedal with clip:


Clipless pedal:


Walkin' around shoe suitable for clipless-cleat system:


Platform pedal:
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Last edited by Clutch Munny; 03-25-2007 at 12:26 AM.
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  #19  
Old 03-24-2007, 10:51 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Cool, thanks for all the input.

I just got back from a bike shop, and given what I saw there and what you guys are saying I think spending $600-$800 is probably a more realistic expectation. It'll take me a couple weeks longer to save up the money, but I think it'll be worth it. I'll take my mountain bike out a few times between now and then to get warmed up, and so I know what I'm leaving behind when I buy a new one!
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Old 03-25-2007, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

:laugh:

Velocelytizing!
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Old 03-25-2007, 03:39 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Lots of great info here. You guys rock!

I think I'll go the clipless pedals route, and I'm sure that Wikipedia has me dead on:
First time clipless users may forget to unclip when coming to a stop, which usually results in an embarrassing sideways fall at very low speed and some bruises.
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Old 03-25-2007, 03:52 PM
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What're the advantages of that clipless system compared to toe clips? First of all you need special shoes. Second of all, you're pulling up on the pedal stroke rather than pushing forward and up (which seems more efficient to me). That must be damn hard on the shoes too. The only advantage I can see is you don't have the leather strap dragging on the ground when the pedal is let free. It is a bit more streamlined, though.
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

All the pros use them, so they must have some advantage. I suppose the modern way has some slight aerodynamic gain, and it also has 'the look'!

A shoe spreads any load when pulling up on the pedals over a larger part of the foot than toe clips could. If you pull the old fashioned type of straps up tight, so as to eliminate any slop, then they can be uncomfortable.

But I understand that not even the pros pull up on the pedals very much. They still tend to let the pedal raise their rearmost leg, but not to the same extent as someone without clips would.

I think the only time you actually pull up on the rear pedal is when making a racing start (track racing style) or when you find yourself in too high a gear on a sudden incline, or wish to accelerate suddenly.
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Seems to me, from an exercise perspective at least, your quadriceps would get a better workout from the clips than the clipless. That's where ya feel it, at least. But yeah, you have to adjust the straps perfectly to the toe of your shoe.

Here's another related issue: maintenance. I used to take my bike apart every Sunday, right down to the bearings in the hubs, clean the axles, soak the derailleurs in solvent and re-lube them, the whole works. One thing I never did was spoke a wheel. I don't think I'd want to attempt that. But I've done just about everything else.
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Old 03-25-2007, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: Cycling

Quote:
Originally Posted by viscousmemories View Post
First time clipless users may forget to unclip when coming to a stop, which usually results in an embarrassing sideways fall at very low speed and some bruises.
AKA, "the horizontal track-stand".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarlatti
What're the advantages of that clipless system compared to toe clips? First of all you need special shoes. Second of all, you're pulling up on the pedal stroke rather than pushing forward and up (which seems more efficient to me).
I think any toeclip motion will be at least as easy with clipless, so I don't see an efficiency issue except possibly in favour of the clipless. (I.e., when you pedal in circles, you push forward when you should, but not when you shouldn't.)

A big issue is just ease of unclipping. By the time you get those clips tight enough that your foot doesn't lift off the pedal, it's tough to kick out. Plus, I can unclip even in the downward part of my stroke -- tough with clips.

I suspect the pros use clipless partly because the high-end ones are lighter, too. But that's not really a factor for me. Certainly I see lots of people still using clips -- and many of those I see as they blast by me. So clearly it can't be some major handicap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fragment
I think the only time you actually pull up on the rear pedal is when making a racing start (track racing style) or when you find yourself in too high a gear on a sudden incline, or wish to accelerate suddenly.
Huh. I haven't heard that said before, but I'm quite new to clipless pedals. The stuff I've seen online about efficient pedaling techniques tends to emphasize an even force throughout the stroke under most circumstances.
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