Cranky old fart with a bad back

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by Weston, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Weston

    Weston New Member

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    I know I can't be the first with this inquiry but here it goes.

    Mid 50's wanting to bike for a number of reasons. Just local stuff on the flat Florida terrain. Trying to get some exercise and maybe run a few errands.

    The problem is I have a herniated disk and sciatica. I tried out a recumbent briefly but it scared the hell out of me when traffic got within 10 feet of me. The people around here are not the most attentive drivers and unfortunately we have a pretty extensive population down here that continues to drive long after their vision and reflexes have deteriorated.

    Any suggestions for a comfortable ride at a reasonable price that I can try out?

    Or should I just take up swimming?:)
     
  2. chibibike

    chibibike Banned

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    my friend has a hybrid bike with a big wide cushy seat on it.
     

  3. Industry_Hack

    Industry_Hack Total noob (& forum admin) Admin Staff Tavern Member

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    One of my rides is an Electra Jester cruiser. Springs on the wide seat, springer front end, and a three speed hub. It's comfy and damn fun. Unless you want to cover a lot of distance, I'd go with a beach cruiser over a hybrid.
     
  4. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    Instead of a full recumbent you might try a semi recumbent. I have a Sunray that isn't nearly as fast as a full recumbent, but offers some advantages. First is comfort and an upright seating position. You ride on what is basically a stadium seat looking seat with a back. You are far more visible to traffic because you are far more upright than you would be in a full recumbent. If you can sit on the edge of a seat with a straight back without pain, you probably could handle a Sunray.

    Though its heavy and inexpensive components, I was having knee problems. I bought mine for about $300 or so. The Sunray solved my knee problems. It felt a little weird for about 20 minutes. Trying any new bike is best in very low traffic areas or better yet a bike trail. Was it the traffic or the different bike that scared you so bad?

    Also remember not all recumbents are created equal. Some have you riding practically laying down. Others are much more upright, but unlike my Sunray have a full seat back for more support. Some are built for speed and others to tour and meant to be comfortable enough to ride all day.

    If you only rode one make an model of recumbent, you may have tried the wrong one. Id also try a beach cruiser too. Those are inexpensive and very low maintenance. No gears to worry about, and no brakes to adjust. Be slower, but they are comfortable and a whole lot of fun. No back support, but if you can sit upright it might work. You could also try a back brace while riding, but thats going to get hot in FL in August.

    Let us know what works. I am sure there are others that either are or will be facing much the same problems.
     
  5. retromike3

    retromike3 retromike3

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    think recumbent

    if you have back problems the thing I would consider would be a recumbent. I used to have a long wheelbase recumbent and it was very comfortable, it's basically like riding around in a lawn chair.There are several different types of recumbents. Both short and long wheelbase, two and three wheeled varieties.The one I had was called an infinity it was a long wheelbase recumbent that was made of aluminum. It was very fast on the flats and going downhill but, I did have trouble climbing so I had a very small inner chainring that gave me less than a one-to-one ratio.

    One of the things I really liked about recumbents was the positive attitude that I got from the local populace. Riding by I always got lots of thumbs up and smiles.

    Something that I might recommend would be if you are going to get a recumbent, think about getting something that has a suspension. Since you can't get out of the saddle if you come across a bump it's good to have something that has a little "give" in it.

    It's been a long time since I've written a recumbent but, I'm sure that they're out there on the net somewhere maybe even in this site.

    mike
     
  6. SprocketGirl

    SprocketGirl spin... spin.. spin

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    i think a beach cruiser might make you happy as suggested. they are stable and you feel in control the riding position makes it a little more comfy.
    lots of companies now offer feet forward or feet first hybrids... they supposedly are more comfortable on the back and knees. never tried it but might be worth testing out.
    of course swimming is great for you and low impact... but nothing beats the feel and fun of a bike ride.
     
  7. bradsalex

    bradsalex New Member

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    I'm not an old fart, but I understand where your coming from. I also have hurniated disks in my back with sciatica issues. Fortunately I'm young (comparatively) enough that I can still ride my road bike. I'm sure with time it will come that I have to quit but I don't want to as long as I can hold out.

    But I guess I'd recommend a beach cruiser style bike where you can sit pretty much upright if riding a recumbent bike is too much for you.

    Brad
     
  8. retromike3

    retromike3 retromike3

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    problems with beach cruisers

    The main problem that I have with beach cruisers and the like is that upright writing style.I know that it's counterintuitive to think since your back is upright it will be a more comfortable position. It seems to me that all the force that happens when you hit obstacles in the road goes straight up your spine. When you're writing a bicycle correctly your back is relatively flat you're not necessarily bent over since you're actually pivoting at the hips.

    I myself have three injured vertebrae in my lower back( I'm more than quarter inch shorter than I used to be)and it looks like I'm developing arthritis there so I empathize with you. Lucky for me I can still wiggle my toes and after I've gotten going I don't feel any pain. I can tell you when the weather is changing though, I have a built in barometer.:)

    Mike.
     
  9. froze

    froze Banned

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    Why not try a full recumbent, a semi recumbent, and a cruiser style of bike and see which one is the most comfortable to ride? Most people that I know who have had bad backs as you described felt better on full recumbents...BUT...everyone is different. When you do try a bike make sure you ride it more then just around the parking lot, take it out for at least 5 miles...unless your back starts to hurt right away, then move on to the next.
     
  10. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    One thing to remember is a recumbent is going to take a bit to get used to. It will feel weird at first. I completely understand what you mean by the riding position on the beach cruiser. Any impact with any bump sends the force right into the sore areas, and might hurt like crazy.

    A more laid back position would take the road bumps and spread them out over the entire back, and the back would have full support. If its the balance issue, they make recumbent that have 3 wheels eliminating the balance issue all together. You might need to search for Tadpoles.

    Now if its the traffic that is scaring you, that traffic is going to be the same regardless of which bike you are on. If traffic bothered you if it got within 10 feet of you on a recumbent, it likely will bother you within ten feet on anything. The question becomes why did it scare you??

    If the fear came from real thought out risks, that's one thing. IF that fear is a result of inexperience, lack of recent experience, lack of knowledge, its likely that its something that can be worked through. Yes there are a lot of old geezers that shouldn't be driving in Fl, but it might surprise you they are out on the roads in high numbers almost everywhere.

    Could you get hit? Honestly the answer is yes, but they could hit almost anything. You also are not usually helpless in the picture either. A bike stops so fast, often has places where you can go to avoid being hit a car couldn't go and doing the right things on the road can help greatly. Being predictable, lights on all the time and during the day time flashing for sure, flags on lower to the ground recumbents are just some of the things you can take control over to avoid problems.

    I suspect what scared you is a feeling of lack of control over the situation. Things like good mirrors, riding aware, practice with emergency stops, and understanding how cars regardless of the age of the driver don't always look for bikes. We must watch out for them, and in fact you should be doing that in most anything you crawl into or on. Yet you are far from being left to the luck of fate. Take control of the things you can control, and then re evaluate the risks. How safe is safe enough is something we all must face.

    What often happens if that someone ride a bike a great deal, they often take that heightened awareness into the car and become better drivers. Others just ride more and don't have a car at all.

    There are some roads around me I avoid, and other road I ride with no concern at all even though many people think I am crazy. If starting in a low traffic area is possible its a good idea. IF there is something else that scared you, there is an awful lot of experience here. Someone just might have an idea to reduce the risk of what has you uncomfortable and an idea on how to work through it.
     
  11. momule

    momule New Member

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    Take a look at the three wheeled trikes that are available. I ride a Catrike Expedition and have a bad back and hips and it really is comfortable to ride with. You sit very low but these trikes all come with safety flags and I ride with lights on day or night. I have had zero problems with people seeing me....but of course I don't ride in heavy traffic either.
    These trikes are not your regular old fart machines but very well built and fast and are a lot of fun to ride. Try Utahtrikes.com for a full view and lots of other information and then find a dealer and ride one. The fun factor way overshadows the buy-in expense.
     
  12. avmech

    avmech Member

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    55 years old, 3 herniated discs in my back and 3 in my neck and some arthritis in my lower back. I find that riding my road bike helps me stretch my back due to leaning forward. I experience no back pain from riding, quite the opposite, it feels better afterward. My neck however, since I have to look up does not fare as well, but I have exercises to stretch it out afterward that work. As I am just north of the OP, my riding is also flat terrain.

    A recumbent puts me in a position that starts hurting really soon, just as I can't sit with my feet forward as in a low slung car (I drive a truck and am comfortable).

    Yea, I know, I am weird..........................but I also have the built in barometer :)
     
  13. froze

    froze Banned

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    Join the weird club because I'm with you there!

    Try raising the bars up to the limit line. If your already there then buy a Nitto Technomic stem if you have the older quill style of stem. Or if you have a threadless design flip the stem over which will angle the stem upward thus higher; otherwise you will need to buy a new stem with a taller angle just make sure that as you go up you get the reach right. Also with threadless you can add spacers to make the stem longer thus be able to raise your bars up. If your using drop bars get a shallow drop bar instead of a deep drop.

    All the things I mentioned will help you from craning your neck to see.
     
  14. avmech

    avmech Member

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    Thanks. Going to hold off a short while as I am looking at another bike in the next few days, need to see how that one goes.