Cycling

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Feb 4, 2002
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#1
A buddy just fixed up a Motobecane Grand Touring for me to get some exercise on. Did all the adjustments and maintenance, and put on a pair of Specialized Armadillo 27x1-1/4" tires because I have no interest changing flats.

The distance between our houses is about a mile. I did it flat out and was panting hard when I got home. This is going to take a lot of work.

Question #1 for the forum is: Are there non-spandex pants that are practical for cycling?
 

timwhit

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#2
Question #1 for the forum is: Are there non-spandex pants that are practical for cycling?
Just to clarify are you looking for shorts or pants? I would try to find something with padding unless you like extreme ass pain or are only planning rides less than 10 miles.

My recommendation is to find a Performance that's close to you and browse their selection, as it can differ from their website and by season. I buy most of my accessories from them as they have decent prices and a great return policy. I have brought broken parts back to them years after purchasing (no receipt) and they were willing to exchange for new, without any questions.

Here are a bunch of shorts that aren't spandex.

Pants will be more difficult, but still possible. Here are a couple options.
 
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#4
Thanks for the tips, timwhit. Pants are a must; for one I like the idea of having something (anything) between my legs and the asphalt should something go wrong and for another my wife will want me to minimize my skin's exposure to the sun.
 

Stereodude

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#5
I've been trying to ride my bike more this year. It's a dual suspension Giant I bought several years ago. I have slicks on it for most of my riding. The current problem I have with it related to the Hayes hydraulic disc brakes. The brake lines are black and when they heat up in the sun the brakes drag pretty badly to the point where you stop when coasting in not very many feet. It makes it very hard to ride. :(

I did some Googling and didn't find anyone else complaining about this issue. My best guess is that there's too much fluid in the system and as a result when it thermally expands it has nowhere to go but to start pressing the pads against the rotor. This weekend I hope to see about bleeding some of the fluid from the system.

FWIW, I just ride in shorts and a t-shirt.
 

jtr1962

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#6
I ride in the same clothes I wear the rest of the time. I'm big on pants also as I want something between my skin and the road if I crash. If your butt starts hurting after a while then you need to get a seat with more padding, or clothing with more padding. The second issue is the crotch area. When I ride on the drops, this can be an issue towards the end of longish (i.e. 1.5 hour) rides. If you start getting pain in that area even on short rides, then you need to make some seat adjustments.

Another suggestion regarding clothing is to always underdress a bit compared to how you might dress if, say, you're only going for a walk. When you ride, eventually you'll heat up. I'd rather be a little cold the first mile or two of a ride, instead of hot for most of it. I'll usually ride in pants and a T-shirt even when it's in the high 50s/low 60s. Down to about 50 a windbreaker is enough. Add a sweater under that and I'm good down to about 40 (although gloves start being a good idea under about 45). I can't ride much under about 30 because even with gloves my hands freeze up to the point where I can't effectively brake or shift.

If you don't already have one, purchase a decent bike computer. This keeps things interesting on longer rides. It also lets you see if your fitness level is improving. In all honestly, it probably takes about 1000 miles before your body acclimates itself well to cycling, but you'll see marked improvements even after a few rides.
 
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#7
My everyday clothes are jeans and these (literally everyday - I must have a dozen of them).

I'm concerned that jeans might be a little heavy to ride with long term.
 

CougTek

Serial computer killer
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#8
That bike is almost as old as you are. So which one is more rusty, the bike, or you?

Oh and be careful with the brakes. You're quite heavy for a cyclist and the brakes on those older bikes aren't as effective as those on newer one (less than fifteen years). You might have surprises if you try or need to brake on a dime.
 
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#9
The bike is actually in amazing shape. Not only no rust, but the paint is completely intact; racing stripes and all. It doesn't look like it was used much, the tires still had the rubber knobs on them but had rotted through. As you say, the brakes don't inspire confidence, but I don't plan on riding in the city.
 

jtr1962

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#11
My Raleigh dates from the mid 1980s. It could probably use a repainting at this point given the appearance of rust on the bottom bracket. Otherwise, it's still pretty serviceable. I did upgrade it around 2 years ago with Shimano brifters, a 10-speed cluster, new rims, and airless tires. The brakes aren't the best, but new pads would help greatly in that regard. I hardly use the brakes anyway despite the fact that I ride in the city. It's mostly a matter of just anticipating what's up ahead.

I was personally drooling over this. More comfortable riding position than a bike, plus a heck of lot faster.

Those Renovo frames look interesting. Wood at first glance doesn't seem like the first material I would choose for a bike frame, but it does have advantages. It can flex a heck of lot more than steel or aluminum before failing. The smoother ride would be a plus on NYC's potholed streets.
 
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#12
The advantages of a recumbent are appealing, but you are practically invisible to drivers. I've had some close calls, and my car is pretty close to the ground itself.
 
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#14
Perhaps this whole riding thing wasn't such a good idea.

Went for my first ride today. I had no idea what I was doing, or how fast I should be going, so I just picked a pace my muscles could handle in top gear and started to go. No idea how fast that is, but I was keeping up with traffic, so 25-30mph sounds about right.

About a mile from my house, my muscles were feeling fine, but my lungs felt like they were filling with fluid and bruised. Started to slow down a bit, but the damage was done. I could barely breathe, and the slower I went and more I sat up, the more it felt like I was getting kicked in the butt with each stroke.

Made it home as easy as I could, got off the bike, and promptly fell over. It's been an hour since I got home and I can still barely breathe. This is going to take quite a bit of getting used to.
 

CougTek

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#15
A mile? You need more than an hour to recover from riding a bike for a mile. At least you could lie and say at least 20. But a mile? At 25-30 miles per hour, that's roughly...a two minutes ride.

It is great time you put yourself in shape. If you want a tip, for the first five minutes, keep pedaling in the low gears. If you start too strong, you will exhaust yourself quickly. Let your body adapt to the effort.

BTW, past 30 years-old, people really out of shape are at greater risk of falling in cardiac arrest when they perform activities that bring them close to their VO2 max capacity.
 
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#16
Yeah. I don't like excercise. If I didn't feel like it was nearing a tipping point of "too late", or, at the very least, "much harder" to get back into shape, I wouldn't bother at all. 6'3", 220lbs. And, apparently, none of it muscle.

But my muscles are still completely fine. Never felt worked at all. Just my lungs. "VO2 max"...looks like something I should look into ;)
 
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#18
Yeah, went there. No indication if the symptoms I suffered are standard, or indicative of something else. Also no mention of specific techniques to improve.
 

Santilli

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#19
Biking is a specific set of muscles, and, type of endurance. Nice bike, by the way. Keep it up, and good luck.
 

paugie

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#20
Uh, David, I remember that picture of you with the sailboat. You didn't look like somebody who would be winded for an hour after a mile @ speed.
You can still get back to "in shape" but slow is the way to go. To much speed too quickly will likely do more damage than good.
 

paugie

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#21
Biking is a fun way to get in shape - and travel and appreciate the environment. It is also a social activity. Just don't go too fast. Actually, I bike at 12-15mph only and can go for 25-30 miles without getting tired.
 

time

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#23
Dave, how long was the ride, really?

If it was a solid 10 minutes or more over several miles, your symptoms are probably understandable - that's not hugely different from a cardio 'stress test'. Hopefully it wasn't completely flat terrain?

Otherwise, you should really see a decent doctor before trying that sort of stunt again (yes, I know that's a contradiction in terms, but sometimes you just have to put some faith in quacks - sorry Adcadet, no offense intended).

Take it seriously, you don't want scar tissue on your heart because you needed to prove how tough you are.
 

Stereodude

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#24
My best guess is that there's too much fluid in the system and as a result when it thermally expands it has nowhere to go but to start pressing the pads against the rotor.
Bingo!!!

I pulled out the reservoir plug and a fair amount of brake fluid came oozing out. I drained a little extra beyond what came out on it's own to allow for expansion. Even with the bike cool I can tell there's less drag on the rotors and the levers engage after more squeezing. The wife and I are going riding in a little bit, so I'll know better how it does in the hot sun pretty shortly.
 

jtr1962

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#25
Not a good idea to go hard at the start of a ride. In fact, it's an awful idea. In addition to road riding, I've been using the Schwinn 240 recumbent downstairs. I go for an hour at a time. My goal is to go at a hard enough pace so I have nothing left after the hour. However, the first few minutes are by necessity at a lower pace to let my body acclimate as my heart rate ramps up, the blood starts flowing, the lungs start working harder. My custom program starts at level 5 for the first 2 intervals (1.5 minutes per interval in a 1 hour ride), then bumps to 6, and finally 7. After that it's a mix of mostly 7 and 8, with the 8's usually followed by 5's or 6's for a little recovery. I also threw in 1 interval at 12 towards the end just to keep it interesting. Anyway, one time I made the mistake of trying to start at level 7 instead of 5. I only got 10 minutes in, then had to stop. The legs were cramping, nothing else felt right. Prior to this ride, I had worked up to 21 miles in an hour, with an average power of 175 watts. It took about 5 more rides before I was back at the level. Moral of the story here-even minor increases at the start of a ride can have serious consequences.

Now let's talk road riding. It's easy to be deluded into going fast at the start of a ride because you're fresh. Especially if I'm going for a long ride, I try not to fall into that trap. The start of my rides is usually the same route. Altitude drops about 20 feet roughly 1/2 mile after the start. After that it's an 80 foot altitude gain over the next 2.5 miles. I can usually do this "warmup" 3 mile segment in 12 minutes or less. I've done it in 10.5 minutes when I'm feeling great. On the flip side it's taken 13 minutes when I'm feeling lousy, or perhaps encounter headwinds. 11:15 seems to be about average if I'm riding regularly. If I went flat out, I could probably make it in under 10 minutes most of the time, but I would have nothing left for the remainder of the ride.

After that, my pace depends upon how far I plan to go. An hour ride, maybe I'll be at a power level where I'll hold 21-23 mph on level roads. Average speeds of course are less because hills and winds always work against you, and in NYC you can never ride at a continuous, steady pace for long before encountering traffic, potholes, red lights (which necessitate at least slowing down enough to see if you can safely pass), etc. Maybe for the portions of my ride where I'm on arterials then I'll average in the 17-18 mph area, although 20 mph isn't unheard of. On a longer ride, I drop the pace by 1 or 2 mph. May not seem like much, but the human body is a peculiar machine. Just cutting power output from, say, 175 watts, to 160 watts could increase endurance by 50%. And it doesn't affect average speed much, either. On some longer rides I've averaged overall a few ticks over 16 mph, although high 15's is more typical. I rarely average over 17 mph on shorter 1 hour or 45 minute rides.

I have done a few "ride a mile as fast as I can" spurts, but this was only maybe towards the end of a ride, after I had thoroughly warmed up. I forget my best time, although a few seconds under 2 minutes sounds about right. After the spurt, I still ride another few minutes to let my body recover. Never go straight to 100% and then back to zero. Worst thing for your body, and also your enjoyment.
 

jtr1962

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#26
Bingo!!!

I pulled out the reservoir plug and a fair amount of brake fluid came oozing out. I drained a little extra beyond what came out on it's own to allow for expansion. Even with the bike cool I can tell there's less drag on the rotors and the levers engage after more squeezing. The wife and I are going riding in a little bit, so I'll know better how it does in the hot sun pretty shortly.
Just make sure you still have enough fluid left in the system so that you still have brakes. I'm really surprised there isn't an expansion chamber or some other means of temperature compensation in these hydraulic brake systems.
 

Stereodude

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#27
Just make sure you still have enough fluid left in the system so that you still have brakes. I'm really surprised there isn't an expansion chamber or some other means of temperature compensation in these hydraulic brake systems.
There's still plenty of fluid in there. I just opened the system so any excess would come out (at the highest point). The ride went much better today. The bike rides much nicer now. I should have done this years ago.
 
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#29
Dave, how long was the ride, really?

If it was a solid 10 minutes or more over several miles, your symptoms are probably understandable - that's not hugely different from a cardio 'stress test'. Hopefully it wasn't completely flat terrain?

Otherwise, you should really see a decent doctor before trying that sort of stunt again (yes, I know that's a contradiction in terms, but sometimes you just have to put some faith in quacks - sorry Adcadet, no offense intended).

Take it seriously, you don't want scar tissue on your heart because you needed to prove how tough you are.
Completely flat. 0.8mi. A matter of minutes, really. Next ride I'll be a bit more cautious at the start and see what happens. Even when I did exercise in the past, I never did cardio - always things that involved strength or endurance.
 
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#30
Not a good idea to go hard at the start of a ride. In fact, it's an awful idea. In addition to road riding, I've been using the Schwinn 240 recumbent downstairs. I go for an hour at a time. My goal is to go at a hard enough pace so I have nothing left after the hour. However, the first few minutes are by necessity at a lower pace to let my body acclimate as my heart rate ramps up, the blood starts flowing, the lungs start working harder. My custom program starts at level 5 for the first 2 intervals (1.5 minutes per interval in a 1 hour ride), then bumps to 6, and finally 7. After that it's a mix of mostly 7 and 8, with the 8's usually followed by 5's or 6's for a little recovery. I also threw in 1 interval at 12 towards the end just to keep it interesting. Anyway, one time I made the mistake of trying to start at level 7 instead of 5. I only got 10 minutes in, then had to stop. The legs were cramping, nothing else felt right. Prior to this ride, I had worked up to 21 miles in an hour, with an average power of 175 watts. It took about 5 more rides before I was back at the level. Moral of the story here-even minor increases at the start of a ride can have serious consequences.

Now let's talk road riding. It's easy to be deluded into going fast at the start of a ride because you're fresh. Especially if I'm going for a long ride, I try not to fall into that trap. The start of my rides is usually the same route. Altitude drops about 20 feet roughly 1/2 mile after the start. After that it's an 80 foot altitude gain over the next 2.5 miles. I can usually do this "warmup" 3 mile segment in 12 minutes or less. I've done it in 10.5 minutes when I'm feeling great. On the flip side it's taken 13 minutes when I'm feeling lousy, or perhaps encounter headwinds. 11:15 seems to be about average if I'm riding regularly. If I went flat out, I could probably make it in under 10 minutes most of the time, but I would have nothing left for the remainder of the ride.

After that, my pace depends upon how far I plan to go. An hour ride, maybe I'll be at a power level where I'll hold 21-23 mph on level roads. Average speeds of course are less because hills and winds always work against you, and in NYC you can never ride at a continuous, steady pace for long before encountering traffic, potholes, red lights (which necessitate at least slowing down enough to see if you can safely pass), etc. Maybe for the portions of my ride where I'm on arterials then I'll average in the 17-18 mph area, although 20 mph isn't unheard of. On a longer ride, I drop the pace by 1 or 2 mph. May not seem like much, but the human body is a peculiar machine. Just cutting power output from, say, 175 watts, to 160 watts could increase endurance by 50%. And it doesn't affect average speed much, either. On some longer rides I've averaged overall a few ticks over 16 mph, although high 15's is more typical. I rarely average over 17 mph on shorter 1 hour or 45 minute rides.

I have done a few "ride a mile as fast as I can" spurts, but this was only maybe towards the end of a ride, after I had thoroughly warmed up. I forget my best time, although a few seconds under 2 minutes sounds about right. After the spurt, I still ride another few minutes to let my body recover. Never go straight to 100% and then back to zero. Worst thing for your body, and also your enjoyment.
Around here the roads are smooth, uncrowded, and the terrain is flat. I didn't have to stop once during my ride. If you don't want to ride on roads at all you can do this. The old Fort Ord military base also has large sections blocked off to motor vehicles open for cyclists. If you really want a challenge, they do the Sea Otter Classic at Laguna Seca Raceway (2.2mi per lap, 300ft of elevation change).
 
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#31
Ride 2. Found a gap when the rain had stopped long enough for the ground to kinda dry. Set off at a more moderate pace, and was feeling remarkably good after a couple miles. Then turned around and realized why; there was a 20mph wind at my back the whole time that I now had to fight back through. Ouch.
 

jtr1962

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#32
Ugh. I know that feeling all too well. It happened on a ride this March. Getting out of the city seemed kind of easy, too easy actually, given that it was only the 3rd time since December that I was on the bike. Coming back, I knew why. :arge: 15-20 mph headwind nearly the entire 10 miles back. At times it felt like my legs were just going to give out. I pushed on, knowing that if I stopped to rest, and cramps set in, I might not be able to get going again. Barely made it home. It took a good week for the pain to subside. The consolation prize was I probably passed about 5 or 6 cyclists stopped on the sidewalk who just plain gave up. Really nasty day for riding. The high 30s temps didn't help much, either.
 

Howell

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#33
Based on your description of the first ride you now know the body can not handle anaerobic activity for more than a couple minutes.

As far as pacing goes:
Your body is in a particular condition right now and that will dictate what you can do with the bike along with terrain and ambient temp. My advice is to use crank rpm as the basis for effort. Find an rpm that you can keep up for at least 20 min and adjust the gearing to accomidate the muscles. Simplified: rpm for heart and lungs, gearing for legs.

The objective is to get at least 20 of ride time in. Ideally you would still be able to function afterward. :)
 
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#34
Thanks Howell. I'm really looking forward to when I can ride 12 miles, there is a local loop of that distance that would keep me out of traffic and is quite beautiful.
 

jtr1962

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#35
Now I have my own uphill battle to fight. Sick all these week, including bedridden sick with a high fever for 3 days. Tonight was the first ride since last Saturday. Surprisingly, the speed wasn't bad (14.8 mph average actually), but no endurance. I went 7.6 miles, then the congestion flared up. Amazing how much conditioning you lose from a week of mostly lying in bed.

We'll try again tomorrow. In all honestly, I'll be lucky if I can manage 20 mile rides by the end of the week. A lot depends upon how fast the remaining congestion clears up.
 
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#36
Ride time is barely pushing 10 minutes at the moment. Is there any ideal crank speed I should be aiming for? I haven't even changed out of top gear yet, and several rotations per second is the norm.
 

jtr1962

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#37
On the cadence, there's really no set number to aim for, although in all honestly pushing a high gear at much under 60 RPM in never a good idea. Consider 60 RPM as sort of the rock bottom of what you should be aiming for. At this point, the first order of business is to just get your legs used to spinning at a constant RPM with a force your legs can manage long term without building up lactic acid or cramping. You simply adjust the gearing up or down so as to maintain that RPM. The actual RPM you end up at depends upon your heart/lungs. If your legs are very strong, then they may be capable of putting out more force than your heart/lungs can sustain long term. That will dictate either dropping the RPM in the same gear, or going to a lower gear at the same RPM. Or the converse could be true, although this is less likely given your lack of aerobic conditioning. Your heart/lungs might be able to sustain a greater effort than your legs can (I actually sometimes have this problem where my legs cramp well before I'm reaching my aerobic limits). If this happens, try going to a lower gear, but increasing the RPM. Same amount of work for your heart/lungs, but less force that your legs need to put, hence less chance of cramping. Works for me most of the time, but then I'm pretty used to spinning at 90-110 RPM.

So overall I'd say keep to 60 RPM minimum, but really spinning faster in a lower gear is always better than slowly pushing a higher gear because there is less chance of cramps, muscle fatigue, or injury. It's not hard to get used to 75-80 RPM. With enough rides 90-100 RPM seems normal. Few riders feel comfortable maintaining much over 120 RPM for any length of time, so think of that as an ultimate upper limit. It's still not a bad idea maybe to do brief intervals at 120 RPM just to vary your spin, but it's way too tiring maintaining that cadence.

BTW, do you have a bike computer? Does it have a cadence function? I might suggest the BC1609 if you don't. Great little computer. They also have wireless computers. I have the BC1909 HR. My LED headlight actually interfered with wireless reception until I changed the driver. Other than possible interference problems, wireless computers make things a lot neater to install.
 

timwhit

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#38
I usually ride at 90 RPM. However, that's a guess at this point because I lost the magnet that told me my cadence. Though, I was always close to 90 before I lost the magnet.
 

jtr1962

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#40
I did 24 miles at 15.8 MPH average today.
Excellent! That's pretty much around where I am on rides of that length (when I'm riding regularly anyway). Lately my averages have mostly wallowed in the mid to high 14s, entirely a result of not riding all that much. 5 rides in March, 4 in April, 5 in May, barely over 200 miles total. Last year, from May through November, I was doing at least 300 miles a month, 400 some months, 3168 miles for the whole year.

Well, still plenty of time to get back to my old self.

Do you mostly ride alone, or with people?

My schedule, and the fact I don't really know anyone who rides regularly local to me, pretty much means I ride alone, barring the occasional impromptu races I might have with people I meet on the road.
 
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