If you knew then what you know now...

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by dc_chris, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. dc_chris

    dc_chris Guest

    Hello all,
    My name is Chris, I'm 24, living in DC (Bethesda specifically) and will be beginning my cycling life this Spring.

    A bit about me: I'm a former high-school athlete who found the party scene all too attractive in college and found myself sitting at a desk 9-5 post college. Translation? I carry around about 40 lbs more than my doc says I should be. Having sat at a desk for 2.5 years I find myself drawn more and more to the outdoors and thoroughly enjoy camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, etc. when I get invited to do so, which is only a few times a year.

    If I'm going to be completely honest, the main reason I'm picking up cycling is to lose weight and take on the healthier lifestyle and self confidence that comes along with it. I'm hoping cycling is a sustainable hobby that will help me achieve those ends.

    What I'm looking for in response to this post is some direction, some reasonable expectations, some pitfalls to avoid...the whole nine.

    From what I can tell this is a very responsive forum so perhaps I can suggest what I think will be a fun way to respond for those looking to help myself and other beginners on this trip. I'm thinking a Top 10 list of "Things beginners should now" about the cycling world. I'm primarily interested in learning about two things: 1) Technical tips for a new cyclist (riding styles, distances to start with, 'biking' gear suggestions, etc.) and 2) Cycling lifestyle tips (should I be trying to get my friends to join me or just take the initiative myself, are cycling/camping trips as much fun as I think they'll be, what's some cycling etiquette that I should know starting off?). If you can come up with a top 5 for each that would make a nice clean Top 10 list.

    Lastly, since I want to take this serious (and create some accountability for myself) would you guys suggest I start a blog or maybe just make periodic updates on my progress here on the forums?

    As a long time forum lurker for other interests (poker mostly) I look forward to getting to know you guys and learning a lot along the way.

  2. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

    Great to have you, Chris! I wish you all the best. Hopefully, we can provide you with some great tips to ease your transition and help you get the most enjoyment out of this hobby/lifestyle that we love.

    What type of riding to you plan on doing mostly? Mtn bike trail riding, road riding, mixture, bike path riding, etc?

    I think number 1 on a top ten list of mine would be to find a local bike shop that you really like and trust. Yeah, the internet provides a sometimes cheaper alternative, but the knowledge available at your LBS and the fact that there is actually product there for you to see and put your hands on, and in some cases try, along with the support/service the shop offers are worth the sometimes extra cost in my opinion.

  3. hophead

    hophead New Member Tavern Member

    Hey Chris,

    Wow, you remind me, of well....me. I'm from Bethesda and also had waaaaaaaaay too much fun in college. I weighed in at around 215 when I rediscovered the bicycle in 2002. I was grossly out of shape and generally felt like crap all the time.

    A good friend of mine was into mtn biking and I decided that riding a bike in the woods sounded like a good way to whip my ass into shape. It also sounded like fun so I got a bike and started riding. At first it sucked--it sucked big time. I had no legs or lungs, but I stuck with it and before long I started to feel pretty good in the saddle. So as for pitfalls, I'd say to stick with it even though you may feel like coughing up a lung. Take it slow to begin with work you way up to longer harder rides.

    As a newbie, I'd strongly recommend getting hooked up with other riders. Riding with other more experienced cyclists is a great way to stay motivated, learn, and just have fun. Check out the MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts) website: MORE for organized rides. We do them all the time, even throughout the Winter. These are mostly mtn bike rides, but most of us ride trails and road.

    I'll need to know a little more about the type of riding that you're interested in to give you and specific advice. Do you have a bike yet? If so wuddya got and where do you see yourself riding?

    For me, cycling started as a way to get and stay fit, but has become a lifestyle.

    Welcome to the site!

  4. dc_chris

    dc_chris Guest

    Thanks for your quick responses. I think it just goes to show how small a world we're in that someone so close and with such a similar story read my first post so quickly.

    I guess I should have given a little more color to what kind of biking I plan on doing. I don't know that I'm ready to take on some aggressive mtb yet and the road biking thing seemed a little too dry (and intense in the outfit dept) for my tastes. I knew there were a lot of good bike trails around the DC area and I wanted the flexibility to not look silly on the road and yet not freak out about drifting off a bike path, so I'm opting for a hybid (although apparently hybrids are looked down on?) It's coming to me in the form of a gift but will likely be a mid/low-end Cannondale or Trek (I don't remember the model types I suggested).

    I like the advice to get to know some people at a local LBS. What would be the best way to approach them (outside of purchasing a bike from them)? Would you suggest I get to know someone at a Mom and Pop shop or at one of the chains? Personal preference here probably, right? Along those lines, how often should I anticipate having to service my bike if I'm riding say 4-5 times/wk at whatever distance your typical 40lb overweight newb starts with?

    "These are mostly mtn bike rides, but most of us ride trails and road."
    This is a bit confusing to me, MORE is mostly for mtb and this forum is mostly trails/road?

  5. Cyclomatic

    Cyclomatic Guest

    Welcome! I would say start slow. Mom and Pops are usually more friendly and have a knowledgeable staff. People who want to be around bikes not just a dude looking for a job.
  6. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

    Same here. Welcome to Twospoke.com!
  7. Skidmark

    Skidmark Cycling for life

    Greetings and welcome. I can relate to some of your feelings as I started cycling last June after my brother just dropped of a new bike on my doorstep. Although my experience is different as I am 56. I had started to loose weight in February, was on two blood pressure meds, etc. I had lost 44 pounds when he gave me the bike. Now I have lost 73. The thing that shocked me was I did not need motivation to ride, I just liked it. Yes, I sucked air badly, but it beat the elipctial, and walking on the track. I would HIGHLY suggest buying at the LBS as stated above. Its a no pressure deal and they really want you to get the right bike. Gloves, and helmet are mandatory in my opnion as well. Enjoy it, explore it, take your time.
  8. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

    Maybe so, but padded shorts are a must as you start getting into longer time in the saddle. A good pair of shorts or bibs can make the difference between a nice ride and torture. You don't have to wear just spandex, though, as there are loose fitting shorts with pads sewn in such as these:

  9. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

    dc chris: Trying to shape your friends into your interests is always a mistake. It annoys them and will frustrate you. Try going to the source of your interest. Go to the cycle riders in your area.

    Expose yourself to every kind of riding there is.* BMX looks very cool on the tube. I did not do that as a child but would have loved it. Try MTBing, long-distance non-competitive touring, racing, all types of cycling. Something will get your focus or you will like everything and end up with 37 bikes in your barn. Not a bad thing.

    Lose all the body weight you can stand and do not go overboard buying the lightest most expensive bicycle component or frame. Two months of proper eating and exercise can take off the equivalent of your whole bike's weight. There is nothing funnier than to go to the races and see a bloke bragging about his new brake levers that cost X amount and saves 3 grams of weight. Meanwhile he looks like the Michelin man stuffed into a race bib. Don't do this. Lose body weight first, then pare your bike.

    If you don't ride everyday, at least get out and walk or jog or do some kind of strength training. The key to fitness is regular effort and mental toughness. Get your work in when you don't want to and you'll be way ahead of the game. In time it will become a very addictive habit. If you find you like any kind of racing, you'll find superior fitness beats talent more times than not. The talented riders tend to get complacent for it comes easy to them. A fierce outdoor terrier dog will always beat the bigger, lazier house pet who has it all.

    Stop drinking if you can. I have a problem with this myself. I would like not to drink at all but fail in the company of others when pints are around. Still, the less alcohol the better for the endurance athlete. At least keep in minimal.

    Forget fad diets and fad food products. Pay more attention to total daily calorie intake, worry not so much about what you eat. The human animal evolved in many places on earth eating many varied things. Northern people ate much animal fat and lived healthy lives, warm weather people survived on fruits and grains. They did okay, too. Think calories and remember a person who does no physical work only needs 15 calories per pound of body weight per day. Example: Sedentary 150 pound man = 2250 calories to stay even. If you workout or do hard labor you will need more. (2250 cals is not much)

    Keep a positive outlook on life. I'm only 21 but this is so obvious to me it fairly screams. I see older people mopping around and doing nothing to elevate their mood or place in the world. Make something happen. Little will fall into your lap.

    Pick a good female mate if that is your choice. Or a good bloke if you are of broad mind. A soulmate is important. It is true that no man is an island. (but if on an island, I'm taking a chick)

    * And last of all, don't ride a recumbent. I've got friends who will beat you up if they see you.

    Cheers, Ian
  10. CTD50

    CTD50 DX's Biggest Member

    All right, dude, welcome aboard!

    A MTB worked for me, for these reasons:

    1. ruggedness, important when you're carrying more 'you' than you want or need;
    2. versatility, the ability to go in rougher areas as well as smooth;
    3. impact, it's harder to pedal a MTB a certain speed than a road or 'cross bike, but that just translates to a better power workout!

    To make the most of it, you need to remember:
    1. Don't radically increase your intake in response to the extra energy burned by cycling; some increase in unavoidable, but it's not an excuse to pig out.
    2. What you eat is just as important; for most riders, the old 60% carb, 20% protein, 20% fat still works. Trainers and fanatics will disagree.
    3. WHEN you eat has a BIG impact; try and eat only a breakfast-sized meal after dark. More intake earlier in the day will correspond to more energy in the hours you're burning more!
    4. While you're getting back in shape, recovery is just as important as riding. The more involved you are in the riding, the more you need to ease up afterwards. Later, as you feel more fit, you'll find yourself going faster in the same rides, and able to have a more 'active' recovery. DON'T FORGET TO STRETCH, BEFORE AND AFTER!
    5. There isn't much you have to give up; just everything in moderation, rather than binges.

    This is what I discovered over the last nine years of bike commuting and being a nut.
  11. wild

    wild Yesterday tired old man, Today retired old man

    I tell the wife that bikes are like tools I nead a comfort bike for riding on the board walk with her, a hybrid for around town, a mount bike for off road, and if I ever lose this belly I will nead a road bike.
    He who dies with the most tools wins.
  12. Doohickie

    Doohickie Older than Hack

    If there is any way to incorporate cycling with your commute, I recommend it. It's a great way to get regular rides in during the week. Most of my miles are from commuting.

    I'm going to jump in on the diet side. If you recognize your weight gain is "beer belly" or "big gut", I highly recommend looking into the South Beach Diet. I lost 70 lb. in 6 months on SBD in 2005. I've gained some weight back since then and recognize that cycling alone isn't enough to get to the weight I want to be (about 30 lb. lighter than I am right now), so I'm starting South Beach again today (New Years resolution).

    If you think you want to try South Beach, I recommend getting a copy of the book, reading the text portion (about the first third of the book) that discusses how the diet works and what it's trying to do, then looking at the meal plans and recipes. Knowing the background makes it easier to stay on it.
  13. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

    Doohickie, see if you can find the book, "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Food" by David Rueben. Same guy who wrote the famous sex book of similar name.

    Book was written in 1976 and is still useful today. Rueben is a high-fiber guy and he writes well.

    I may have his last name slightly wrong - Rueben or Ruebens.

    Reading is my favorite activity aside from teasing recumbent riders. This book I found at a used book store. Mine's paperback.
  14. Smiley

    Smiley New Member

    Hey and welcome! All these guys know what they are talking about. As to the losing weight, burn more calories than you take in! Get a good bike fit! There is nothing worse than a seat not meant for your sitz bones!
  15. Skidmark

    Skidmark Cycling for life

    Greetings, Another book is called "You the Owners Manual" by Michael Roizen and Mehmet. Very straight forward explination about your whole body, whats healthy, some recipies, etc. I would say close to the SB diet, more Med. style cooking with medical and lifestyle advice. Its a life style change that happens in increments. I actually have been teaching myself to cook to get the right food groups. After loosing 74 pounds in six months, 35 of which came after being stuck, then started cycling. Believe Smiley when she says get a bike that fits!
  16. Rhythm

    Rhythm Guest

    Best advice is regarding your LBS. just go in an chat with them. All the questions your asking us you should ask them (as a way to start up the convo and you should try and get your "gift" purchased there). Mom and Pop shops are the way to go.

    Get fitted, not enough cyclists get fitted for their bikes and this can make a HUGE difference in performance.

    Also don't worry too much about diet. What I mean is don't become a fanatic.

    If you stick to the basics like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and stay away from red meats. For many over eaters the issue is portion size.

    The average person only needs about 1/3-1/2 of the food they put on their plate and as such are over eaters. In addition, 5 small meals will help over 3-2 big ones for increasing your metabolism.

    Cut out soda, candies, alcohol, and fast foods.

    Drink water like its the life-line it truly is. One glass of cold water a day can help boost your metabolism by up to 10%.
  17. kegoguinness

    kegoguinness New Member

    If I knew then what I know now: I'd have given up owning a car about 10 years ago. Commuting by bike has its challenges, but it's so rewarding. Thinking of all the car-related expenses over the years makes me sick. I still own a car, still drive it, but a lot less than I used to. I guess this all comes to mind since I just paid car insurance. Happy riding in 2010 everyone!
  18. synack

    synack The Back Row

    This thread is full of great advice. I have only to add some advice on diet. I've always been of a thinner build when most of my family are all bigger guys. I can also gain weight fairly easily (if I want to) but I know what and how much I should or shouldn't be eating. If you look at your fork and know that you shouldn't do it. DON'T.

    My best advice is to eat SLOWER and take drinks between bites. Have a conversation while you're eating or surf the web to distract yourself. You'll notice that pretty soon you're plate is half full and your stomach is completely full. It's a great way to force yourself to lose weight very easily.

    And remember you are not wasting food because it goes into the trash either way. :D
  19. lotek

    lotek New Member

    . . . I'd have bought that Proteus custom bike back in 1982.
    btw. Proteus designs (off Wisconsin Ave? in College Park) is still open.
    Spokes in Alexandria or Vienna are good shops as is College Park Bikes (if they are
    still open).

    and I'd have packed on more miles.

  20. ruggedscotsman

    ruggedscotsman hardtail hardass