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      10-06-2016, 01:02 PM   #1
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Yo, bike riders, need some newb advice...

I need to find a low impact way of exercising that I'll enjoy enough to stick with. When I was a teen I rode my 10-speed everywhere all the time. I'd like to get back into biking and we live in a great area for it as we are surrounded my miles and miles of country roads.

I'm leaning towards a bike I could use on dirt if the chance presents itself, although most of my riding will be on paved roads. The roads here are "paved" with oil and gravel (they call it chipping), so sometimes they can be pretty gnarly. A strict street bike with skinny tires won't cut it. I don't mind springing for a decent bike to start, but I'd rather start conservative and move up to a nicer bike if I decide to stick with it.

So I could use some advice...

Recommended bike type?

What's a good distance for a ride? 10 miles? Or is that not enough to get a decent workout?

Gear? I never wore a helmet as a kid, but then again, I didn't wear seat belts back then either. So I'm assuming a helmet as a minimum and maybe elbow protection. I don't fall gracefully at all. And what about shoes? Regular running shoes ok to start?

Technique? As with running, I assume you need to set a pace you sustain over the distance which will also burn calories. Is there a good minutes-per-mile standard I should be looking at?

Gotchas? I'm sure I'm missing something. What else do I need to think about?
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      10-06-2016, 02:37 PM   #2
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There are some good bike threads here so search.

Speed and distance, you shouldn't really worry about, but you'll probably need more time then you would for a run ( fitness levels dependent )

As for bikes test ride a bunch, bike seat style are a big factor, type of pedal and shoes is a big decision, when I think about it I know a lot of guys in their fifties and sixties who really messed themselves up unable to get their shoes out of clips/clipless and broke bones or worse.
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      10-06-2016, 02:54 PM   #3
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There are some good bike threads here so search.

Speed and distance, you shouldn't really worry about, but you'll probably need more time then you would for a run ( fitness levels dependent )

As for bikes test ride a bunch, bike seat style are a big factor, type of pedal and shoes is a big decision, when I think about it I know a lot of guys in their fifties and sixties who really messed themselves up unable to get their shoes out of clips/clipless and broke bones or worse.
Yeah, I won't be doing the clips thing. Never have liked them. Flat pedals are fine with me. And I did go through the bike threads, but they seem to be more oriented to the hard core bike crowd. Don't think I'm ready to jump into carbon fiber yet.

There's a bike shop here in town I was just reminded of and they let you test ride bikes, so I'll be visiting them soon. I just thought I'd get some pointers on decent brands and brands to avoid.
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      10-06-2016, 03:06 PM   #4
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Walk into a shop and say "I want a cross bike" (often referred to as cx)... Smug bike shop guys will try to sell you on a worthless hybrid bike that you'll eventually hate. In essence, a cross bike looks just like a road bike with drop bars and such; however, it has a geometry to allow for wider/knobbier tires that make it the perfect tool for mixed terrain and in the event that you get serious and want to start banging out centuries, then throw on some slick road tires and call it a day also they're easier to sell as cross racers are always looking for beater bikes to sling through the mud. Hybrid bikes are barely worth their melt value.

As far as distances... work your way up in terms of fitness and speed. But try to start off doing an hour each time then work your way up. When I first got a bike I'd be mindblown of even doing 16 miles and the thought of people doing 100 mile rides were lunatics, now that's a walk in the park. The whole activity is all about constant progression and pushing your limits.

As far as pedals and gear, you're going to get overwhelmed with accessory purchases. Eventually you'll want real pedals and shoes, riding in running shoes is horrid and will be painful on your arches as there is so much flex.

You're on the right path either way, I detest running but can spend 7-8 hours in the saddle (starts to hurt around 10). Just get a decent aluminum cross bike, throw some flat pedals on for the interim, get a decent bike fit and start riding. The rest will fall into place.
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      10-06-2016, 03:22 PM   #5
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In your situation I would not do drop bars. You will find that you will be less comfortable with your vision from the riding position with drop bars as opposed to flat bars. In the bike segment you're looking at, you should be able to find an equal bike with flat bars as opposed to drop bars. I actually have switched to a flat bar road bike after years of drop bars and feel unquestionable safer in traffic. Don't get me wrong, I love drop bar bikes but since I ride a lot less than I used to, I find myself more comfortable with flat bars. That said, you will give up some sprinting power and some aero efficiency on descent.

The best piece of advice in this thread so far is to test ride bikes. Different brands fit differently. I have never found a good fit with Specialized or Kona MTB's, but Rocky Mountain and Norco have been awesome for me. Same with Trek road bikes ... great fit.

As for the discussion in this thread about clips, I view them as a must have. You get so much more pedaling efficiency and waste less energy that they are worth the hassle of learning. I have zero problem snapping my feet out of clips in an instant ... it's simply a learned behaviour. I even use egg beaters on my MTB as I prefer not giving up all of my pedaling efficiency but need the ability to ride flats on descents.
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      10-06-2016, 03:34 PM   #6
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...barely worth their melt value.
LOL. I need to remember that line. I can think of lots of things where that applies.

Thanks for the advice, folks. I'll look at the cross bikes. And I'm sure if it becomes a hobby I like, I'll figure out what works best for me, just as it did with photography. I'm just trying avoid some expensive mistakes like I made with camera gear.
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      10-06-2016, 04:00 PM   #7
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If you want to ride off road or do some hiking/mountain trails on a bike, you should look into a mountain bike. One with front suspension will be fine for riding on the road, no need for full suspension unless you're going over some seriously large rocks. With the flat bars and upright seating position, it's comfortable for longer distances. Plus the suspension will smooth things out.

The two main categories are mountain bikes and road bikes. The ones in between are generally not so great because of compromises.

Any worthwhile bike should cost more than $500 so most things below that are not worth considering unless you're looking for a disposable toy.

Brands don't make much of a difference in entry level bikes... they are all very similar with the same components. When you go past $1000 for a bike, there is more differentiation between brands.

As others have said .. go test ride to see what you like.
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      10-06-2016, 04:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Z K View Post
If you want to ride off road or do some hiking/mountain trails on a bike, you should look into a mountain bike. One with front suspension will be fine for riding on the road, no need for full suspension unless you're going over some seriously large rocks. With the flat bars and upright seating position, it's comfortable for longer distances. Plus the suspension will smooth things out.

The two main categories are mountain bikes and road bikes. The ones in between are generally not so great because of compromises.

Any worthwhile bike should cost more than $500 so most things below that are not worth considering unless you're looking for a disposable toy.

Brands don't make much of a difference in entry level bikes... they are all very similar with the same components. When you go past $1000 for a bike, there is more differentiation between brands.

As others have said .. go test ride to see what you like.
At no point did he state he was going to be riding over huge rocks and gnarly backwoods trails full of hazards. People widely under estimate the usefulness and versatility of cross bikes out of not knowing they even exist since on the surface they look like a normal road bike so it's not a category they're even aware to look for.

If he walks into a shop unsure of their intended use (like many do), he's going to get a shitty hybrid bike pushed on him that does nothing well since they always keep tons of those heaps on the floor.

A cross bike is perfect for mixed terrain, asphalt, gravel, mud... It does everything well with the right tire all the way up to rugged mountain/trail terrain (at which point there's a specific bike that only does that and only that well)

Here's a random cx race video on YouTube to showcase the versatility I speak of
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      10-06-2016, 04:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Six View Post
I need to find a low impact way of exercising that I'll enjoy enough to stick with. When I was a teen I rode my 10-speed everywhere all the time. I'd like to get back into biking and we live in a great area for it as we are surrounded my miles and miles of country roads.

I'm leaning towards a bike I could use on dirt if the chance presents itself, although most of my riding will be on paved roads. The roads here are "paved" with oil and gravel (they call it chipping), so sometimes they can be pretty gnarly. A strict street bike with skinny tires won't cut it. I don't mind springing for a decent bike to start, but I'd rather start conservative and move up to a nicer bike if I decide to stick with it.

So I could use some advice...

Recommended bike type?

What's a good distance for a ride? 10 miles? Or is that not enough to get a decent workout?

Gear? I never wore a helmet as a kid, but then again, I didn't wear seat belts back then either. So I'm assuming a helmet as a minimum and maybe elbow protection. I don't fall gracefully at all. And what about shoes? Regular running shoes ok to start?

Technique? As with running, I assume you need to set a pace you sustain over the distance which will also burn calories. Is there a good minutes-per-mile standard I should be looking at?

Gotchas? I'm sure I'm missing something. What else do I need to think about?
+ 1 on the CX bike. It sounds counter intuitive, but if you're going to spend an hour or more on a bike, a road or CX bike is generally more comfortable than a mtn bike. The only draw back for a CX or road bike is that you'll want to get a professional bike fit to find the comfort. The best person to talk to in choosing a bike is a bike fitter. Most of the time they can't survive on just doing that alone, so they also sell bikes in the shop. Find a shop who does bike fits and take to their fitter to figure out what brand and size works best for you.

Gear: Helmet is a must. Smart phone mount and fitness tracking app is nice to track your progress. There are several free apps that do this very well. (Strava) Shoes & pedals..... i personalty can't imagine pedaling a bike on flats in sneakers. One of the underestimated benefits from clip pedals is that it keeps you're joints in the same place when pedaling. This can help keep your, knee, ankle and hips in line thus reducing chance of injury. Keep an open mind when it comes to pedals and shoes.

Distance is relative to the conditions your riding in. Make a time goal more so than distance. If you're riding 10 miles with a tail wind for most of it, you may be done in 40 min where as if you're riding 10 miles into a head wind, you may be at it for 90 min.

For calorie burn, you're likely going to get about 290/hour if you're riding at a leisure 10mph pace. So if burning calories is your goal, get a bike that will be comfortable for a few hours of riding. You can mitigate time with extra effort. I've burned the same amount of calories in a leisure 3 hour ride as i have in a 80 min ride. Heart rate can be a good measure of effort. You may be interested in investing into a HR monitor to make sure you're not over doing it. I know several personal trainers who won't train someone unless they have a HR monitor.

Back to Gear: If you're going to be on a CX bike for 60 - 120 min at a time, a decent chamois short should be on your list. And so you don't have to ask, no undies with those shorts.

If you're riding on the streets with cars, a bright tail light is a must and a reasonable forward flashing head light is helpful. Being visible to the drivers is the goal.
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      10-06-2016, 04:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itrsteve View Post
At no point did he state he was going to be riding over huge rocks and gnarly backwoods trails full of hazards. People widely under estimate the usefulness and versatility of cross bikes out of not knowing they even exist since on the surface they look like a normal road bike so it's not a category they're even aware to look for.

If he walks into a shop unsure of their intended use (like many do), he's going to get a shitty hybrid bike pushed on him that does nothing well since they always keep tons of those heaps on the floor.

A cross bike is perfect for mixed terrain, asphalt, gravel, mud... It does everything well with the right tire all the way up to rugged mountain/trail terrain (at which point there's a specific bike that only does that and only that well)

Here's a random cx race video on YouTube to showcase the versatility I speak of
I am aware of cross bikes and have test ridden them before. There's a lot of limitations to cross bikes I am not willing to accept.

The whole point is to have a road bike geometry for something you can ride off road. But if you do go off road, you'll always run into places there it's inconvenient. Doing hours of riding on a trail with a ridged fork will beat your wrists to pieces. Also, leaning low is not where you want to be on a descent on a trail.

On the road, they are often much heavier than road bikes and lack the aerodynamics. Although cross bikes are more suited for road than off road.

I'd say the cross bike is ok but it's definitely suited more for experienced riders off road as you have to live with the compromises and work around the limitations.
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      10-06-2016, 04:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Z K View Post
I am aware of cross bikes and have test ridden them before. There's a lot of limitations to cross bikes I am not willing to accept.

The whole point is to have a road bike geometry for something you can ride off road. But if you do go off road, you'll always run into places there it's inconvenient. Doing hours of riding on a trail with a ridged fork will beat your wrists to pieces. Also, leaning low is not where you want to be on a descent on a trail.

On the road, they are often much heavier than road bikes and lack the aerodynamics. Although cross bikes are more suited for road than off road.

I'd say the cross bike is ok but it's definitely suited more for experienced riders off road as you have to live with the compromises and work around the limitations.
While I don't disagree, at no point did he say he's going to ride anything other than asphalt and crushed gravel, no option will handle these as well than a cross bike with a little meat on the tires. No boulders, mountain descents or jumping tree stumps were mentioned; if so, I wouldn't have suggested such. That use case has only one bike designed for it and it only does that well.

A cross bike is the best middle of the road without compromises until you get to the extreme ends of the spectrum. It will allow him to get out on the road and experience the satisfaction of smooth speed and dabble in mixed terrain or mud. From there he may find that he takes a strong liking to one particular use then go full on road bike and shave his legs or mountain bike and get a Subaru
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      10-06-2016, 04:42 PM   #12
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here is an example of a CX bike with some very aggressive tires. You don't need this extreme of a tire for what you described.





Something like this is what you're looking for in my opinion. As previously stated, it's your old 10speed bike with wider, more grippy tires. Tires provide a tremendous amount of comfort or discomfort. These larger CX tires allow you to run a much lower PSI vs road bikes. This bike you can scoot around on the road quickly, will have sufficient grip in a dirt or gravel road and your chipped roads will be perfect for this type of bike.

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      10-06-2016, 04:47 PM   #13
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My biggest hint is set a time to ride and do it no matter what. There will come a time, after a couple months of riding, that you'll feel wrong not going for a ride. The only way to get to that point is committed riding. There is always a good reason not to ride. You just have to, is the best reason to ride.
Gear: Helmet, gloves, glasses, shoes with a HARD insole(clips as soon as possible), a comfortable seat, and tires matched to conditions.
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      10-06-2016, 04:49 PM   #14
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I still disagree on the cross bike for anything other than road.. its a geometry and design that is not designed to go off road. It's ok for a bit more comfort on road but off road it'd not be so great.

The mountain bike geometry is also more comfortable for long rides and much more cushion so you don't beat up your body. I'm not talking about full suspension bikes with riser bars... a nice hard tail cross country set up with a good fork will pay tons of dividends and much more agile off road with loads of grip.
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      10-06-2016, 05:09 PM   #15
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Again, many thanks for the suggestions. There are a few (very few) areas here with serious off-road biking trails, but I won't be using them. But one place I will ride is an old railbed that got converted into a bike/horse/hiking trail. Parts of that trail are dirt or grass covered. Hence my desire for something that will handle non-paved areas.

The CX bikes sound perfect. I'll make sure I get the right tires. The local bike shop gets high marks from clients, so hopefully they have someone there who wants to sell me the right bike for me and not the bike the sales manager is pushing. If not, I'll go elsewhere. I have no problem telling sales reps good-bye.

I was going to ask about apps for tracking, but I figured there must be a bunch out there. I have a couple of Garmins and Google maps can be sent to an iPhone, so that shouldn't be an issue. I know these roads anyway, so it's not like I'm going to get lost. I've already mapped out 10 and 20 mile routes that barely touch a major road. The biggest threat here are the yahoos who race up and down the farm roads in pickup trucks. We've had them blast by us at 60MPH+ when we're out walking sometimes. Not enough sense to slow down just a bit while they pass us. That's especially fun when the road is newly chipped.

Thanks again, all. I'll post back when I get something. Then you can tell me whether I screwed up or not.
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      10-06-2016, 05:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Six View Post
Again, many thanks for the suggestions. There are a few (very few) areas here with serious off-road biking trails, but I won't be using them. But one place I will ride is an old railbed that got converted into a bike/horse/hiking trail. Parts of that trail are dirt or grass covered. Hence my desire for something that will handle non-paved areas.

The CX bikes sound perfect. I'll make sure I get the right tires. The local bike shop gets high marks from clients, so hopefully they have someone there who wants to sell me the right bike for me and not the bike the sales manager is pushing. If not, I'll go elsewhere. I have no problem telling sales reps good-bye.

I was going to ask about apps for tracking, but I figured there must be a bunch out there. I have a couple of Garmins and Google maps can be sent to an iPhone, so that shouldn't be an issue. I know these roads anyway, so it's not like I'm going to get lost. I've already mapped out 10 and 20 mile routes that barely touch a major road. The biggest threat here are the yahoos who race up and down the farm roads in pickup trucks. We've had them blast by us at 60MPH+ when we're out walking sometimes. Not enough sense to slow down just a bit while they pass us. That's especially fun when the road is newly chipped.

Thanks again, all. I'll post back when I get something. Then you can tell me whether I screwed up or not.
If you know what kind you want and the proper size, Craig's list can land you a deal, someone who rode a year or two quit and now want to get ride of it. Whatever you do get a good one, you will be rewarded with a bike that is reliable and easy to ride.

Just a thought.
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      10-06-2016, 05:43 PM   #17
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Re: apps. I know Strava was mentioned earlier. Absolutely awesome app. You can use Endomondo as well if you're using it for other fitness activities, but if it's basically cycling, go with Strava.
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      10-06-2016, 05:51 PM   #18
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Shop around and report back what's offered. I don't know what your local dealer sells but although I've never purchased a Giant, I feel they're the best bang for the buck. This is their entry Aluminum CX bike that will take a long time to outgrow and maintain great resale value (I personally don't know anybody that races cross on an expensive bike)

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us...2/26059/92775/

As far as technology, tracking and navigation aren't mutually inclusive. Starting out, you can get a $50 Wahoo Bluetooth heart rate strap and use Strava on your smartphone to track your miles, route and general speed via GPS and the HR strap to help guide you to properly target and measure your workouts (I'm not going to get down the power meter route yet).

Real time navigation is a little trickier and is generally best suited by the Garmin Edge 800 or 1000 lines. But I don't want to inundate you with purchases yet. Once you get over the sticker shock of a bike you'll at bare minimum have to get a pump, spare tubes, tire kit, bottles, bottle cages, helmet and then very soon after should follow with pedals, shoes, GOOD shorts (if you want to buy once, get good bibs), a light, etc... It never ends.

With all of that being said. I started as you did and fell in love with it, so much that I completely quit tracking and began racing bikes as I found it THAT much more rewarding. No matter the level that you ride, I can't speak positively enough on how fantastic of an activity it is. Not only from the physical standpoint but also mental, in this era of information overload, it's therapeutic to get out for a few hours and just ignore the damn phone and better yourself. Plus, I ride with dudes of all ages and no matter if they're 50 or even in their 70's who have been avid cyclists are some of the happiest, fit and ailment-free people you will find.

So try not to get sticker shock from the entry to cycling as it will never be as expensive as a heartattack.
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      10-06-2016, 06:22 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itrsteve View Post
At no point did he state he was going to be riding over huge rocks and gnarly backwoods trails full of hazards. People widely under estimate the usefulness and versatility of cross bikes out of not knowing they even exist since on the surface they look like a normal road bike so it's not a category they're even aware to look for.

If he walks into a shop unsure of their intended use (like many do), he's going to get a shitty hybrid bike pushed on him that does nothing well since they always keep tons of those heaps on the floor.

A cross bike is perfect for mixed terrain, asphalt, gravel, mud... It does everything well with the right tire all the way up to rugged mountain/trail terrain (at which point there's a specific bike that only does that and only that well)

Here's a random cx race video on YouTube to showcase the versatility I speak of
Your video is made in Belgium , and the top 5 of the world is Belgian like usual .
I met personal some guys from in your video because I drove 4 years in the Belgian competition but on the road and your video shows the highlights from the cyclo-cross season from the last 4-5 years .

Our cyclo-cross season is started 2 weeks ago , and I watch every single cyclo-cross .
So every weekend in winter we have races and here is the 2016-2017 cyclo-cross calendar => http://www.veldritkalender.be/

But the greatest Belgian we ever had in cyclo-cross was "SVEN-NYS"
He stopped last year at age 39 with the professional competition and won "291 professional races" !!!
SVEN-NYS .

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      10-06-2016, 07:24 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by itrsteve View Post
Shop around and report back what's offered. I don't know what your local dealer sells but although I've never purchased a Giant, I feel they're the best bang for the buck. This is their entry Aluminum CX bike that will take a long time to outgrow and maintain great resale value (I personally don't know anybody that races cross on an expensive bike)

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us...2/26059/92775/

As far as technology, tracking and navigation aren't mutually inclusive. Starting out, you can get a $50 Wahoo Bluetooth heart rate strap and use Strava on your smartphone to track your miles, route and general speed via GPS and the HR strap to help guide you to properly target and measure your workouts (I'm not going to get down the power meter route yet).

Real time navigation is a little trickier and is generally best suited by the Garmin Edge 800 or 1000 lines. But I don't want to inundate you with purchases yet. Once you get over the sticker shock of a bike you'll at bare minimum have to get a pump, spare tubes, tire kit, bottles, bottle cages, helmet and then very soon after should follow with pedals, shoes, GOOD shorts (if you want to buy once, get good bibs), a light, etc... It never ends.

With all of that being said. I started as you did and fell in love with it, so much that I completely quit tracking and began racing bikes as I found it THAT much more rewarding. No matter the level that you ride, I can't speak positively enough on how fantastic of an activity it is. Not only from the physical standpoint but also mental, in this era of information overload, it's therapeutic to get out for a few hours and just ignore the damn phone and better yourself. Plus, I ride with dudes of all ages and no matter if they're 50 or even in their 70's who have been avid cyclists are some of the happiest, fit and ailment-free people you will find.

So try not to get sticker shock from the entry to cycling as it will never be as expensive as a heartattack.
Thanks. I'm definitely going to look to see what's out there, including Craig's List. Although with our minimalist CL, I doubt I'll find something that fits. I'm 6'3", so it'd have to be a good sized bike.

While I don't want to go whole hog and throw away money on a bike I end up not using, I want something decent enough that I won't be looking to upgrade in a few months if I find I do like riding. Back in August I spent $1700 on a camera lens to shoot a local airshow, so I'm not averse to paying for something good if that's what it takes.
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      10-06-2016, 07:25 PM   #21
Mr Tonka
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Originally Posted by 08njSTEP View Post
My biggest hint is set a time to ride and do it no matter what. There will come a time, after a couple months of riding, that you'll feel wrong not going for a ride. The only way to get to that point is committed riding. There is always a good reason not to ride. You just have to, is the best reason to ride.
Gear: Helmet, gloves, glasses, shoes with a HARD insole(clips as soon as possible), a comfortable seat, and tires matched to conditions.
So true. This damn hurricane has screwed up my weekday rides and i feel all out of sorts.

I started training for a bike trip in Montana. I was ramping up the time/mileage every week before the trip. Then i was without my bike for a week after the trip. I assumed that i was going to be happy about not riding for a week, but i was jonesing to ride after just a few days of being home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by itrsteve View Post
Shop around and report back what's offered. I don't know what your local dealer sells but although I've never purchased a Giant, I feel they're the best bang for the buck. This is their entry Aluminum CX bike that will take a long time to outgrow and maintain great resale value (I personally don't know anybody that races cross on an expensive bike)

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us...2/26059/92775/

As far as technology, tracking and navigation aren't mutually inclusive. Starting out, you can get a $50 Wahoo Bluetooth heart rate strap and use Strava on your smartphone to track your miles, route and general speed via GPS and the HR strap to help guide you to properly target and measure your workouts (I'm not going to get down the power meter route yet).

Real time navigation is a little trickier and is generally best suited by the Garmin Edge 800 or 1000 lines. But I don't want to inundate you with purchases yet. Once you get over the sticker shock of a bike you'll at bare minimum have to get a pump, spare tubes, tire kit, bottles, bottle cages, helmet and then very soon after should follow with pedals, shoes, GOOD shorts (if you want to buy once, get good bibs), a light, etc... It never ends.

With all of that being said. I started as you did and fell in love with it, so much that I completely quit tracking and began racing bikes as I found it THAT much more rewarding. No matter the level that you ride, I can't speak positively enough on how fantastic of an activity it is. Not only from the physical standpoint but also mental, in this era of information overload, it's therapeutic to get out for a few hours and just ignore the damn phone and better yourself. Plus, I ride with dudes of all ages and no matter if they're 50 or even in their 70's who have been avid cyclists are some of the happiest, fit and ailment-free people you will find.

So try not to get sticker shock from the entry to cycling as it will never be as expensive as a heartattack.
^^ All great stuff here Mark. Giant has been killing it in the value department. Plus they make frames for many of the bike manufacturers out there. Great bikes.

The best i feel physically and mentally is during the 6 to 8 hours after riding. I hope you get into it and love it Mark.

Edit: I know a lot of tall guys who ride Giant bikes and they love them.
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      10-07-2016, 11:14 AM   #22
dc503
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itrsteve View Post
Walk into a shop and say "I want a cross bike" (often referred to as cx)...
This! Even as a dedicated road ride pretty much, my CX bike is maybe the most fun and useful bike I've had in awhile. I can explore, commute, run errands, do gravel, ride pavement, and within reason ride single track XC without worry too much. Yeah, there's limitations as everyone talked about above but it checks a lot of boxes.

What's a good distance for a ride? 10 miles? Or is that not enough to get a decent workout? Just ride and see how your body takes it

Gear? I never wore a helmet as a kid, but then again, I didn't wear seat belts back then either. So I'm assuming a helmet as a minimum and maybe elbow protection. I don't fall gracefully at all. And what about shoes? Regular running shoes ok to start? Get a decent helmet. I always suggest pedals to start right but you'll be fine in normal shoes

Technique? As with running, I assume you need to set a pace you sustain over the distance which will also burn calories. Is there a good minutes-per-mile standard I should be looking at? Again on this one, just ride and enjoy it. You'll feel your way through this eventually

Gotchas? I'm sure I'm missing something. What else do I need to think about? When purchasing a bike, try to think if you're really going to enjoy it, or you end up in a cycle of upgrading over and over
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