I never learned to ride a bike as kid. At age 33, I realized I was about to move to a city where biking is close to mandatory (Melbourne), so I sucked it up and went for a couple of one-on-one adult bike lessons. Despite a first lesson that was so painfully fumbling and awkward I almost gave up, I showed up once more and figured out the key: when you start to fall over to the left, steer to the left, and you will suddenly no longer be falling. Rinse and repeat. We did a little cruise around the neighborhood, and hey, I was biking! Although I did have my ceremonial first fall when I crashed into a bollard at the end of a bridge (at very slow speed, fortunately).
Then I started commuting to my new workplace by bike. 15 minutes, a nice and easy ride, mostly on bike paths separated from road traffic -- but it was still scary as hell initially, and I walked the route a few times, trying to figure out exactly what I'd need to do to cross every road and turn every corner. The first morning was freaky, but I still remember the feeling of adrenaline rush when I arrived at the office the first time: Whoo! I survived! And then on the way back later that day, my shoelace gets caught up in the gears and I do a slow-motion crash onto the bike path. No real damage, but my nerves were sufficiently shot that I had to walk the bike home and skip the next day. Two days later I was at it again.
Next I attempted to learn curb hopping. My spectacularly mistimed 2nd attempt saw the wheel hit the curb full on, so I flew head over heels and shredded one knee to bits on gravel. Turns out you can keep biking just fine with a bloody knee, it only starts to hurt once the blood gets a chance to congeal.
And now I commute by bike every single day, rain or shine, 0 or 40 degrees. I wouldn't give it up for the world and am considering upgrading from my current trusty but heavy mountain bike into a zippier road model.
But at a race prep meetup for a long triathlon I was the only one without them, and got mollycoddled by the organisers. They gave strong advice to get them.
So I got them and took it easy - riding around a park, slow rides. I still had several bad falls when I got onto the roads though. And I need to go through busy roads to get to the country (no car).
I found that you need to be very deliberately transactional in the way you cycling when you have clips. For example - as you approach lights, once you get a certain distance out of it's still read then that's it - you just start start unclipping. You don't want to play the game of edging up to the lights, because a car might do something confusing and then you're screwed. You need to position yourself in traffic much more carefully, and hold off on some situations you wouldn't have thought twice about when you had pedals.
Better to just buy a pair of light-reflecting velcro strips. They sell them for just this purpose. I always find that somehow my pant leg comes out of the sock and catches on something.
I concur about toeclips - not necessary at all for normal commuting in the first place.
I hope your emergency will continue to be in your future, unfortunately mine caught up with me. After I stopped using toeclips I went as fast as before, even did emergency stops a couple of times, including another front wheel flip (and with those new disc brakes that's even easier now than before) but nothing ever came close to the time when I was strapped to the bike.
The one good thing about the bike falling on me was that I was pretty poor at the time and the bike didn't have any damage ;)
Anyway, just wanted to say, definitely give a nice road-bike a try. They are really amazing, wonderful machines. I have a feeling you'll never want to ride anything on road ever again :)
If you are not totally confident in bike handling you might be better off with a hybrid model where you still have some of the comfort and control of a mountain bike but with slightly skinnier and slicker tyres.
Road bikes go faster and destabilise much more suddenly ,especially in the wet.
Obviously hopping 'down' is no problem at all, hopping up the front wheel is easy (just pull up on the handlebars as you approach the kerb, shift weight backwards and push on the top pedal, then drop the front wheel which should have come off the ground by now on the kerb so it never sees the step and make the drop gentle). You can practice that just fine without a kerb. The rear wheel part of the gentle kerb hop is the tricky bit, I can do it with my eyes closed but describing it is a lot harder. The basic idea is to move your cog forward quickly while at the same time squeezing on the pedals inward. That way you can lift the rear end of the bike onto the kerb. If you flex your knees a bit then you can do this even onto substantial kerb heights.
Once you've mastered that hopping down is mostly the reverse to spare the wheel from impacting too hard at the end of the drop. If you're really good you can do this at speed without any noticeable bounce. I'd hate to do this with my 120kg fully loaded 3 people bike ;)
> I distinctly remember the first time I actually made it up that hill, I remember feeling that if I could do something that I sucked at so bad couple weeks ago now, I could do apply that to anything.
Once I found I could run for 3 hours non stop it felt amazing, then 4 hours, 5 and so on. It was the first time in life that I really got the feeling that hard work could bring massive benefits to areas that I had no previous experience in. And no one had to show me. I could just go out and do it.
Anything really is possible.
If you are interested in running nutrition (or any endurance nutrition) I wrote about a presentation I went on a few months ago http://justrunning.net/2012/09/the-steve-born-seminar-15-sim...
When it is not an organized run, you will have to manage water on your own. We have a 5km loop and we put our water bottles in a vehicle at the start point.
Depending on the distance that we plan to run, we increase/decrease the number of iterations of the loop.
When running in loops is not an option, people are advised to get a fuel belt.
Book recommendation, not just about cycling: The Rider, by Tim Krabbé
"The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses; people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. ‘Good for you’. Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few friends these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.”
As a side note, if you do get a bike on a shoestring budget get an older bike as those things were built to last; modern cheap bikes have gimmicky suspension setups (suspension is great but there are vast differences between cheap elastomers and a plush oil based setup) that don't help and add weight (and parts to go wrong) to the bike.
Also if you are finding it difficult to get into, try different styles of cycling. Fast road riding, cross country mountain biking, long distance cycle touring , downhill mountain biking and BMX riding are all vastly different experiences that use completely different skills and muscles.
On another note, if you get serious I do highly recommend so called "clipless" (a cleat in the shoe locks into the pedal) pedals for most styles of riding.
These things seem so scary and dangerous to start with, but I can virtually guarantee that once you are used to them you will not want to go back even for technical offroad riding. The extra efficiency and control you gain is astonishing, toe clips don't even come close. Of course make sure you practise on a grassy area first and get the feel for them and make sure you are confident with them before heading into traffic.
Falling off your bike when you stop for a red light is at best embarrassing and at worst really dangerous.
Also Sheldon Brown's page (RIP) on cycle maintenance though heavily outdated unless you have an older bike is probably one of my favorite parts of the "old internet".
I can't get into clipless riding though. I tried toe clips and found it incredibly dangerous riding in the city (New York City). I don't feel safe unless I can bail off the bike in an instant. It also seems the clips discourage cyclists from stopping at red lights.
Maybe it's a good idea for more rural riding, but I pretty much never do that.
Clipless pedals (the terminology is a bit confusing; "clipless" are the pedals that can be "clipped into" using special cleats, as opposed to the toe-cage style "clips") do take a bit of getting used to, but they are no less safe once the transition has been made (should only take a week) and the benefits are enormous.
With toeclips there is something physical that is stopping your feet from moving and you have to get your foot completely clear of the strap before it is safe to put it down.
With clipless on the other hand, if you have your pedals set right (spring tension) it becomes an automatic reaction when you know you are about to stop or about to go down. You also get much more freedom of foot movement without destabilising the bike. I got into a few hairy situations riding some technical trails but ejecting feet from pedals was never an issue.
Nowadays I actually find it more hairy riding with flats since I have to worry about my feet falling off the pedals accidently if I hit something too hard.
1. kick your heel out so that your foot is more than 13.5 degrees with your toes pointed towards the bike.
2. there is no step 2.
Personally, I haven't had any problems with the SH-51 pedals, including city riding (in San Francisco). Part of it is psychological -- when riding slowly, particularly while splitting lanes, it's a little bit nerve racking to be clipped in at first -- but if you compare to toe clips, you'll probably find that you actually don't step off the pedals very frequently. The other aspect is that it's not completely natural to twist your ankle when falling (since normally you'd roll your ankle doing this!), but after a couple of falls or near-falls you'll get used to it and start to do it without thinking. Every once in a blue moon I'll have to stop extremely suddenly, or start to fall (e.g. misclip in while starting uphill), and I'll now turn my ankles without consciously thinking about it. With clipless you'll find that can actually unclip faster/more easily than toe clips since you can push forwards or sideways with your foot while falling, instead of being restricted to pulling back.
Agree fully with you on clipless pedals, after proper training though :)
Once I got used to clipless pedals, I realized how little control over the pedals you have without them; I feel like my shoes are going to slip all the time.
* You can go out riding by yourself, or with groups.
* You can geek out about the tech involved if you want.
* It gets you outdoors in a context very different from sitting on your ass in front of a computer. Great for clearing the head.
The biggest drawback is that it's tough to find the time for a good ride (at least 2 hours), whereas something like running takes less time.
If anyone ever makes it over to the Padova area with their bike, I'd be happy to take you out on a ride and show you the area. The Colli Euganei and Colli Berici are both pleasant and attractive areas to ride.
Last year my new years resolution was to get in shape. In the summer I jumped rope almost everyday. There becomes a moment when you are jumping, where you stop jumping and you feel like you are floating. Your legs are moving the rope, and as you continue your mind flourishes and floats. I love this feeling; jumping rope is my cycling.
Last time I went to the gym I was doing double revolution jumps and this guy looked at me and was like "I haven't seen anyone do that since Rocky". ADRIAN.
One thing I would recommend is, once you're out of traffic or are confident of staying on the edge of the road and not being hit by passing traffic, try playing some trance or other high energy music through headphones. You don't need a special iPod or expensive headphones, just a regular smartphone in your pocket (if like me you remain unconvinced about doing the lycra thing) and in-ear headphones threaded through your shirt will do it. This isn't just a random recommendation: by adding high energy music, I find that my subconscious regulation of breathing changes and I am able to more accelerate my metabolism both more quickly and to a further point.
Source: During my first startup in southwest China I used to leave the office about 4 or 5pm and cycle up a Himalayan mountain at high speed before retiring to social drinking. Through the wonders of cycling I managed to lose a lot of weight and maintain high energy despite heavy drinking :) Also used to do whole day group or solo rides on the weekends, sometimes both days, usually with more off-road.
I've also done (usually month long) cycle tours around southwest China, France, Romania, and Taiwan.
A couple of years back, while living in the Hollywood hills of LA for a year, I got a bit in to road biking .. the mountains north of eastern LA are fantastic for weekend rides. Unfortunately I'm living in Bangkok now, no chance to cycle but a huge private pool to enjoy, and plan to hit southwest China on a regular basis to visit the squirrels in my favoured cycling environment: high altitude Himalayan pine forest. Ahh, nature and exercise are so life affirming :)
Startup: My own, since there was nobody doing anything there that required my skills I simply made my own project. China-focused multilingual hotel reservation system, with integrated global SMS, digital fax, from-scratch diskless Linux-based VOIP call center.
If you know how to get around safely, I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't want to cycle. Most people are worried about sweating, but is easily solved by not riding like some Tour De France wanna-be and enjoying a nice casual ride.
Plus it was awful being sopping wet and covered in 'london shit' that you can't clean off without resorting to rubbing yourself with swarfega.
Horrible experience. Even a picadilly line tube train (known as the tandoor) is better in the middle of summer with sweltering 32oC and no air.
I ride 12 miles from dalston to gunnersbury most days, even though the overground goes direct (and the overground is infinitely more pleasant than the picadilly), because it's extremely pleasant. I don't take the obvious route, straight down through angel and bloomsbury, heading for bayswater and goldhawk road, that would just be silly. Instead I took a look at a map and plotted a slightly longer course through camden going north of regent's park (and also skipping to the north of shepherd's bush. And it's great, very little traffic, not even many buses.
You can't expect all roads in a big old city to be "pleasant" to cycle, hell, many of them are unpleasant in a car. But you have the freedom on a bike to plot massively more different routes to your destination, ugly roads are rarely unavoidable.
At least that's my experience in the north. I often feel a bit exposed cycling clapham / stockwell / brixton areas late at night, but that's because I haven't invested in the local knowledge...
Humans are just sacks of jam in an accident. No thanks.
Arranging their life in such a way that regular commutes can be accomplished on a bicycle or by foot is one of the most valuable lifestyle changes anyone with a desk job can make.
It reminds me of when I bought my first new car, a 2007 VW Rabbit. I knew what I wanted - the four-door non-sport edition, but the dealer asked me if I wanted to test drive the GTI which I didn't know came in a 4-door. I was very tempted but resisted because I knew as soon as I test drove the GTI, the Rabbit would feel sluggish in comparison. The point is, if you start out by test driving something expensive, whether it be a bike or a car, your expectations will rise from zero to very-high and it will taint the well of cheaper options.
It's much more economical to buy a cheaper bike when you have zero expectations, especially if you don't know whether or not you will commit to the sport long-term. You can always sell it and upgrade to a nice $1000+ road bike in the future if you end up loving the sport. I might even recommend going cheaper than I did and buying a used road bike on craigslist for far less than the $400 I spent on a new bike (however cheap $400 is for a new road bike). As others have mentioned here, half the fun of owning a bike is learning how to maintain, repair, and upgrade it over time.
That said, if you are counting what you have in the not too expensive department, I agree completely. I got a pretty good deal on craigs list. Is an older bike, but unless you plan on going competitive, it is hard to go wrong with a quality bike.
No, that there is a cheap bike. Average bike prices are around $700 or so. An expensive bike is ~ $4K with carbon fiber/titanium frames. Sure, you can get a Walmart bike for $200, those things fall apart very soon and encourage bad posture.
Myself... I just wish I biked more. I don't have the courage to bike the full 14 miles to work, and the 3 miles each way using the train just feels sorta "meh."
I am highly tempted by the bike lights at revolights.com. If anyone has experience with those, I'm all ears.
of course, I realize I do things wrong by taking advantage of the speed my bike can get. I put the smallest tires I could easily find on them and have been having a blast with how easy hills are. Probably not the safest riding on the planet, but I have learned not to overtake cars if I can avoid it now.
I'll probably buy a new bike instead of a used one.
My commute is only 8 miles and I do this the vast majority of days in all weathers (London, UK) even if it's icy or snowy (this weather to come in the next few months) as I've got a spare pair of wheels with Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tyres on them.
Combining my commute (the alternative is to take the train) with a 30 minute exercise session saves me time and I still get an hour of exercise a day, and I also get a bit of time to arrange my thoughts for the day.
Yes there are increased risks, but these are greatly outweighed by the health benefits.
It can get quite addictive, and the distances soon build up. I got back into cycling about 6 years ago and did a 60 mile charity ride. Those 60 miles certainly felt like a long way by the time I'd finished, but that led to doing a 200km Audax in ~10 hours (they're not races) and then progressively longer rides all the way up to rides lasting multiple days and doing ~300km+ each day. Last year was Paris-Brest-Paris 1200km which has to be done in under 90 hours. That was fun, despite my relative lack of preparation.
1. Other countries call them Randonnees or Brevets. Which are generally measured in kilometers hence the swapping of units.
2. Several reasons; gluttony and apathy mainly. Easily sorted by being less lazy and keeping an eye on food intake again.
Disclaimer: Works well in grid layouts (western US), less well in
older cities, depends on local topography, rivers, rail, etc.
Cycling provides a lot of valuable life lessons in the form of metaphors. And after you reach a baseline of physical fitness, the sport turns out to be mostly a mental / psychological challenge. For example, when I'm climbing a hill, I charge at it. I climb all the way through with full effort until _after_ I crest over the top. I don't stop the effort just shy of the finish. It's much more gratifying than giving up just before you're done because you know the pain's about to be over.
Cycling provides a life-long way to push yourself, test your abilities, traverse the globe, see beautiful places, and find camaraderie, and relive the joy and freedom of being a kid on two wheels.
"I successfully avoided my picture taken. Not so much consciously, but more with the knowledge that it would come out not particularly flattering."
It reminds me of a point Tina Fey made in her Google talk that she just had to learn a particular expression which would make her look good and then bust it out whenever her radar picked up someone taking a photo. I started mimicking that idea, along with various body language tricks and found myself pleased with the results. It makes it much easier to get motivated to work out and dress stylishly when your starting point is already better than you thought because of a few powerful little modifiers. In the spirit of the OP, that's not the end - it's the start of getting better at something!
Anyway, bikes are great.
Cycling is dangerous when you share such tight little roads with 20 tonne trucks, cars and other vehicles.
Training and hi-viz are everything: I have lights for daylight running and a fluorescent jacket.
Also, learning how to ride correctly has made a huge difference, try this book:
If you want the reassurance of a helmet (I have mixed opinions) get a Specialized since they're made to a higher standard than most other brands.
Try to find quieter routes if you want to try riding. This app can help:
As can scouting your route using street-view, etc.
Try it, you should live :) And as OA says, you'll live well too.
Base data comes via OpenStreetMap but various Uk cycling orgs and quangos have contributed too.
I've cycle commuted in London for years and still try and find a course once a year to go on to keep my knowledge fresh.
You'll learn lots of things; what not to do, how to ride assertively (not aggressively), how to ride defensively, when to ride assertively or defensively, the greatest dangers and how to mitigate those risks, etc.
seems to have gone off a bit.
As long as you have your wits about you, take all reasonable precautions (helmet, lights, high-vis clothing, etc.) and ride defensively, I don't see much that can go wrong.
Cycling is a nice distraction from your passion but for me personally, it became a passion that cannabalized my other hobbies. Its quite an addiction, the reason I think is because it is so quantifiable and if your'e a bit of a numbers guy like me it is a perfectly gamified concept (check out strava.com)
Nonetheless, having commuted each day of my young life through wind, rain, snow and having put over 100,000 kilometers on my bike I can attest to the fact that the feeling of accomplishment is unparalleled.
Whatever your reason may be, cycling is an amazing way to channel your energy and strive to reach your goals.
Thank your for sharing your story.
Congrats to you for finding something you're passionate about and sticking with it, and improving your health.
Can't help but wonder ... how is the weight now? I am sure it is a lot better.
My #2 is already mentioned elsewhere (Sheldon Brown).
Exercise is good for your body and your mental health. Any sane religion would not discourage it.
If you've managed to find God's love, all the best to you. Still, even if this is your permanent, reliable source of serenity, it does not mean you shouldn't seek happiness in this mortal world as well. Your comment is completely irrelevant.
I wasn't taking anything away from you
>Your comment is completely irrelevant to me.
It's sad how much you hate God around here. I hope for you that he's not real.
The god delusion, awesome. Being a student of philosophy for a long time, and avid cyclist for longer, and someone who's shed the childish notion of the vengeful god, I can say for certain there is no god and therefore, there's no reason to worry about 'him' being 'real'.
However, if you round a corner on your bike and slam into an oncoming car, THAT is real. God will not magically make your molecules pass through that car and leave you unharmed. God will not fill up your energy when your climbing those hills nor will he fill up your stomach whenever you want. You have to do that, because THAT is real.
Yes, we live mostly by the ego. So it is and we continue forward finding happiness here and there (sometimes all over - the universe to me is far more beautiful than the notion of a vengeful, side-taking god), just 'living' the human experience. People let 'god' ruin that, always have, (sadly) always will.
Cycling helps us produce endorphins. If our body holds out and we don't feel like puking after that one or many hills, we can feel elated. That's brain chemistry. There's no magic switches and god has nothing to do with any of that. He saves no one from accidents, stops no wars, does not magically wave his hand/wand and turn that homeless guy into a 'cured' millionaire. Just like he will not magically lift me up so I can fly thru the air to the top of a nasty hill.
No, he's definitely not real, nor does he need to be. When I was young and realized organized religion was a sham, a veil was lifted over my eyes. Human existence has so much beauty (and sure, plenty of pain and suffering, just ask the Buddha) and I'm just happy being a part of that. I only have one shot to experience all of it. So, for me, cycling is a part of that beauty, just like the OP said. Stop robbing everyone of their experiences with beauty just because you believe in a hypothetical, invisible, vengeful, biased, super being. Leave us mortals who have to deal with reality every day to enjoy our postings in peace.
(edited for typos)
>However, if you round a corner on your bike and slam into an oncoming car, THAT is real.
The pain isn't real. The notion that you are on a bike is not real. The only thing that is real is that matter slams into matter. Everything else is a product of consciousness which in materialism is nothing but a fluke of nature, but certainly has nothing to do with reality.
> Stop robbing everyone of their experiences with beauty just because you believe in a hypothetical, invisible, vengeful, biased, super being. Leave us mortals who have to deal with reality every day to enjoy our postings in peace.
Oh, I didn't know that the only thing you want is people patting you on the back so that you can enjoy your happy life. Sorry for waking you up and question your existence. Dream on then.
And we don't "hate God" here - we don't hate any of the imaginary deities invented throughout human history. All of those ideas played an important role in early human culture, even if they are now all firmly past their best by date. Anyway, how can you hate something that doesn't exist? Your claim that we hate your god makes as much sense to us as a Hindu telling you that you hate Ganeesh and Shiva would to you. You would make similar arguments to a Hindu as to why their silly superstition is false, while preserving your own superstition from the same equally-valid critique. We simply observe the most logical and efficient explanation of the many competing ancient superstitions and surmise that they are all equally ungrounded in reality.
We are simply irritated by people who refuse to quit clinging to ancient, irrelevant superstitions, refuse to accept the cutting edge of human knowledge, refuse to accept and take charge of our position in the universe and advance the human story, refuse to accept our true ignorance of the nature of the universe (implicit in claiming that ~3000 year old ideas made up by people orders of magnitude more ignorant than us still have any relevance or signal any absolute truth) - and worst of all refuse to keep their irrelevant ignorance in their pants and instead run around trying to criticise intelligent, enlightened, superstition-free people.
Sounds like a major Bible workout to me!