BikePGH!

Adult novice, just learned to ride

This topic contains 72 replies, has 31 voices, and was last updated by  Mikhail 1 yr, 4 mos.

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HiddenVariable

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Oct 18 2012 at 3:22pm #

Now I am relaxing at home, glad to be through with that crazy ride… and looking forward to the next!

this right here!


Anonymous

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Oct 18 2012 at 3:43pm #

Thanks for all the great replies!

I definitely don’t intend to bike over Fort Pitt on purpose any time in the foreseeable future. It was OK for the guy on his trike, since he didn’t have to worry about stability, but the pedestrian path was (a) for pedestrians, and (b) too narrow for me to be comfortable and feel safe.

I can’t do Flock on Friday, unfortunately, since I won’t be off work til well after it starts. Also, I still need to get some lights and better reflectors before I take the bike out after dark. It does sound like a pretty great ride, though, so I will look forward to joining it sometime in the future – looks like I don’t have a work conflict for the November ride.

With a work-enforced bike break today and Friday, I am hoping Saturday’s not too rainy in the morning. What I’d like for my next ride would probably be something like going from Greenfield to the South Side up to the detour to Carson, turn around instead and go back to the Eliza Furnace trail, head downtown, then back to Greenfield. A healthy ride that hopefully won’t have anything unexpected.

The one thing that surprises me is that my legs aren’t killing me today the way they were after some of my earlier rides. They were worn out yesterday, but I had a ton of protein at lunch and dinner, and that seems to have helped a lot. My back’s a bit sore, probably from walking the bike, which was more than a little awkward – I’m still not sure what the most comfortable way to do that is.

I remain very enthusiastic about more and longer/faster rides, as I build up strength and gain experience and skill. I have to be honest – I was not a particularly athletic kid, and other than walking, about the only physical activities I enjoyed were ultimate frisbee and fencing. Although I’ve been going to the JCC gym this year with my wife and doing elliptical and rower, bicycling is the first time in my life I’ve really enjoyed and had fun with an intense cardiac workout, and I am really valuing that.


StuInMcCandless

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Oct 18 2012 at 4:33pm #

Walk on the side that doesn’t have the chain. Try picking it up and carrying it for a bit. Maybe even carry it up and back down a small staircase. There are several places in the city where a staircase is a nice alternative to a stiff on-street climb, and you’re using a different set of muscles.


HiddenVariable

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Oct 18 2012 at 4:58pm #

it takes a bit of practice, but in my experience, the best way to walk with a bike without contorting yourself in ways you can’t maintain is to hold the saddle with one hand and walk next to it. the bike wants to remain upright, so you just have to get used to not trying to knock it over. this is essentially the same thing as riding with no hands, except without the potential for chewing on some pavement.

it’s pretty comfortable, and you can walk a good long way this way. as an added bonus, you won’t constantly bang your legs with the pedals. and it doesn’t put the strain on your wrist that holding the stem while walking does.


Mick

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Oct 18 2012 at 5:46pm #

@nlesgold.

I haven’t played ultimate frisbee, but my impression is that it’s pretty fun – and it is about as aerobic as you can get. Am I wrong?


Anonymous

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Oct 19 2012 at 4:29am #

Ultimate is a good time, and can be pretty intense. The biggest difference between ultimate and other team sports for me is that I can actually throw a frisbee semi-accurately and catch one fairly well, which was not generally true for balls in sports that used them. Also it’s mostly non-contact which I approved of. You can certainly get a very intense workout playing ultimate but I never played enough for that to really impact my condition.


Anonymous

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Oct 20 2012 at 2:36pm #

Good morning! I’m back from my earliest and longest (intentional) ride to date, just over 11 miles. :-)

This was was, for the most part, straightforward and not too adventurous – Eliza Furnace Trail, Greenfield to down and back, twice. Started around 8, took a break after the first “lap”, finished the second just after 9am.

Considering that I did this deliberately and without anyone pushing or prompting me, I am trying to figure how who am I, and what have I done with Noah? ;-)

I said “mostly” straightforward, because after I got done with the second trip and rested a bit, I wanted to do a little cooldown riding in the vacant UPMC parking lot and practice stuff like turns, stops, and figure 8s. That was going well until I took a turn a little too tightly and had my rear wheel go out from under me. I managed to step off and not take any personal damage, but afterward I found that I had a slipped chain, a (mostly cosmetically) bent right pedal, and a rear flat. Since I haven’t actually learned any bike maintenance yet (it is something I do intend to look into, though), I’ll be heading back to biketek to get them to look at it when they open at 11.

At the time I was thinking pure user error, although once I realized I had a flat, I’m wasn’t sure if blowing the tire was why I lost control, or if it happened as part of the fall. Either way I’ll try to be more careful.

I am feeling more comfortable with turns and also with biking with only one hand on the handlebars, though, so that’s progress. I’m hoping to get the bike fixed and ready for me to take another ride tomorrow.


Ken Kaminski

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Oct 20 2012 at 3:34pm #

Probably the flat caused the fall, or they’re unrelated. I’ve fallen off my bike lots of times, and its never made my never go flat.


reddan

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Oct 20 2012 at 3:36pm #

And so it begins. Soon, the quest for beating one’s personal best will lead to 30-mile road rides, then 60-mile road rides…then things start getting silly.

I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying this so much…speaking as an adult-onset cyclist myself, it’s easy to forget just how much joy (and sweat, and blood, and chain marks on the calf) one can take in the first journeys. And that joy is worth preserving. :-)


StuInMcCandless

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Oct 20 2012 at 5:11pm #

My hunch is that you got a slow- to medium-speed leak somewhere in your ride, which did not much affect your straight-line motion. (You can ride a bike with barely 15 pounds of air in the tire, but 60 to 80 is usually recommended. On a velvet parking lot, you can ride it almost flat and not notice.) But when you started making tight turns, the tire went out from under you, and you wrecked. And then noticed the flat.


Anonymous

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Oct 20 2012 at 6:06pm #

The guy at Biketek diagnosed it as a pinch flat, and swapped in a new tube. That, truing the wheel, and some chain tweaks have me back in the game. :-) I’ve been keeping my tires pressurized.


Anonymous

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Oct 26 2012 at 11:03am #

So, the biking has been rather impaired this week due to catching a cold. I did do some more riding after the repairs on Saturday, just a couple miles with my wife to bring the day’s total over 13, then around 4 miles on Sunday the next day, both on the jail trail. Monday and Tuesday were work, and Wednesday I could tell I was sick, but wanted to ride anyway. This may have been a mistake. 5 miles, not too strenuous, with my wife, and afterward I had pretty much no energy left. Yesterday I basically rested the entire day, and today I am hoping to maybe go to Schenley park and try some of the trails there. I’ll be sure to report if that actually happens, and otherwise it’ll have to be Monday.

My wife suggested that a rule for biking when sick might be, “not if whatever is bothering you is below the neck”. Any thoughts on when a ride is probably a terrible idea?


jamesk

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Oct 26 2012 at 12:18pm #

@nlesgold, the “below the neck” rule is the rule that I use myself, so that sounds about right.


Anonymous

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Oct 26 2012 at 1:22pm #

yep. “below the neck.” Though usually I talk myself into ignoring it if I really want to ride.

As you can see, I survived.


Anonymous

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Oct 26 2012 at 2:44pm #

First, sorry you’re under the weather, hope it clears soon. I’m a terrible klutz who ~barely~ learned to ride as a kid and then never really rode anywhere and got better.

In terms of riding in the street, which up till recently was more or less an inconceivable thing to me, one thing that definitely helped for me was riding with a neighbor at night when the streets were almost completely empty.

I live in squirrel hill too and would happy to join you on a night ride when you’re feeling better. You’ll want a front light, reflective vest, and rear blinker.

I got everything but the front light locally. The front light I got at action-led-lights.com since I was unhappy with the prices/brightness of what I saw locally.

Anyways, let me know and happy riding!


Anonymous

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Nov 20 2012 at 4:08pm #

Been a while, but I am back on the horse. Riding got disrupted by being sick, and some business around Superstorm Sandy, but I’ve done a couple rides recently. Between poor planning and fuzzy thinking from working nights, I forgot about the November Flock, which is a shame – if there’s one in December I will try to give it a go.

Last Sunday I had my first straight up, uncontrolled fall off my bike. Went for a ride on the South Side trail in the opposite direction from Downtown, which I thought was really pleasant, but after I stopped to rest a bit and turn around for the return ride, my start went wrong and I ended up tipping over and catching myself on my hands. Thought for about an hour that I might’ve broken something in my hand or wrist, but I got a brace on it pretty quickly after I got home, and it was completely fine within a few days. My starts are still a bit clumsy – fundamentally it’s just something I haven’t practiced a lot, since I am still so new to riding. Riding the three miles back to the car with a bum hand was challenging but plausible – I was glad not to have to walk it back the whole way.

Today I went out for a simple ride from Greenfield to downtown and back on the jail trail, and that was entirely uneventful. I’m looking forward to more riding.


sarapgh2

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Nov 20 2012 at 4:34pm #

Congrats on your first solid fall, this means you’re getting somewhere:) Seriously though, it happens to us all, even the most experienced. Try doing it in front of a bunch of witnesses, that is the best!


HiddenVariable

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Nov 20 2012 at 4:42pm #

@nlesgold: give this article a read, and see if it helps any. a lot of people don’t really know how to properly start the bike going forward. or how to stop it, for that matter.


StuInMcCandless

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Nov 20 2012 at 6:23pm #

Come out on Saturday to one of the Dirty Dozen hills if you want to see some truly amazing falls by quite experienced cyclists. Once you see that, I am confident that you will have the inspiration to keep trying juuuust a bit beyond your confidence zone, each time you ride. Not a lot, not enough to get badly hurt or do something unsafe. If nothing else, take notes on how to fall.


Anonymous

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Nov 20 2012 at 7:43pm #

@HiddenVariable I would not trust this article at all. One of the finest technique to mount/dismount are “The Cowboy Mount” and “The Flying Leap”. You see it a lot in CX( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2RNqf7R5AY ). More advanced technique to dismount is modified “The Cowboy Dismount” — you care your leg over saddle, move it to front, and continue to ride while other leg is still clipped-in and your leg crossed. You have to practice a lot to do it flawlessly but it worth it.


newbie

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Feb 17 2013 at 9:25pm #

Hi, I am a very late 30′s female and have never learned to ride a bike. Never been on one at all. This summer I want to do this!!!!! Any ideas who I can find to help teach me (not something I want people to know I cannot do) – it seems it is going to be really hard to learn as an adult since the blissfulness of youthful ignorance of pain is long gone!

I’ve googled and it seems in larger cities like Boston this is easy to hire someone who provides a bike and helmet but I cannot see it here in Pittsburgh. I do live North so I was thinking the park and ride lot at the cinema on a weekend would be ideal (big space / few cars/people). I don’t want to invest in a bike until I can try it out without causing the sales folks internal damage with all the laughing they’ll do watching me……


Pseudacris

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Feb 17 2013 at 9:48pm #

There is a place called Golden Triangle bike rentals that has a few locations along the (car free!) trails. They have bikes with comfortable upright handlebars and helmets are part of the deal (last summer it was ~$8/hr.

I was fortunate to learn as a kid, but I have heard the “balance bike” approach works with adults, too.

In a nutshell, lower the seat enough that you can kind of walk, then glide yourself along. In short, you learn to balance and steer before you worry one whit about pedaling. After a while, you raise the seat to a height that is friendlier to your knees :-) and start pedaling with the confidence that you can balance already.

Here’s a good story that ran a few years ago in the New York Times about adult learners.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/for-adult-learners-bike-riding-isnt-as-easy-as-it-looks/

Also, there is a traffic-free cycling oval with a big flat paved area in the middle that is free to use. It is on Washington Blvd…The Bud Harris Cycling Track.


edmonds59

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Feb 18 2013 at 12:20am #

Hey newbie, this is a great thing that you want to do! If you don’t find some other means of learning between now and spring, I volunteer. I am a very patient and non-judgemental man, 30+ years riding experience, taught 2 kids to ride and they are splendid riders. I would be quite enthusiastic about getting an adult beginner going. I have a couple of spare bikes that would be perfect for learning on, no charge. You would need to buy a simple helmet. Meeting at North Park or the Harris oval Pseudacris mentioned would work. I could probably find someone to vouch that I am not a psycho for your peace of mind as well. Let me know.


Jack

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Feb 18 2013 at 1:36am #

Hey Newbie, I started riding in August of 2011. I bought a hybrid type bike and started riding on the local river trails and sections of the GAP Trail. Use whatever type of bike you like. I think the best thing is to find a friend to ride and learn with. They do not have to be an expert. It’s much better if they are a friend.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 18 2013 at 2:38am #

I too live north (not far from CCAC North) and would be willing to help.


Swalfoort

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Feb 18 2013 at 11:30am #

Hey, newbie!

Congratulations on your decision to (finally) learn to ride a bike! The process of making that decision and then seeking help in learning probably took a fair amount of courage. I admire that.

You’ve had a couple of offers of assistance from this board, and will probably have a few more. That’s the sort of community you have found here.

I just wanted to vouch for Stu and Edmonds as “assistants” in your endeavor. If I had to name 5 people in this City that I would recommend for this sort of task, they’d both be on it. They are both experienced riders, but not “overachievers” in terms of their expectations of themselves, or of others. They both have older kids, so understand the teaching and the learning processes. They are both also avidly pro-empowerment, so will be encouraging throughout the learning process. They are both are pretty mild mannered and easy to get along with. I think those are all qualities I would be wondering about as I sought a “teacher” for a project like this.

I wish you luck in this effort. It’s a worthy one. Even if you find in the end that cycling is not one of your favorite passtimes, you willhave conquered one new skill. That’s commendable!

Keep us posted, please.

And, to the rest of you out there, I am not suggesting that you are NOT good instructors. Two people had made almost immediate offers of assistance, and I thought it would be hlepful to our newbie to know a little more about the people making the offers. In doing so I was drawing on my experiences in watching people learn how to drive a car. Some people (and some relationships) are simply better suited to taking on the teaching role than others. The wrong instructor can sometimes make the process more arduous than it need be. And, as a woman, if two guys I didn’t know offered to help, I’d want a little assurance that they were ok guys.

Hope everyone is cool with that.


edmonds59

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Feb 18 2013 at 1:20pm #

Aww, shucks


joanne

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Feb 18 2013 at 11:35pm #

How wonderful–I am so excited for you! One thing I’ve found in getting deeper and deeper into cycling as an adult is that I’m always just getting over learning something new, or just planning to learn the next thing (e.g., climbing hills more effectively, riding with clipless pedals, towing/transporting things, riding in groups–it’s endless).

It sounds like you’re feeling a little bad about not having the opportunity to learn as a kid, but honestly, it’s really exhilarating to have a brand new fellow traveler!

I second what Swalfoort says about Edmonds and Stu. I have also seen with learners of all ages that a small hill on a bike trail with a nice patch of grass at the bottom can really help in the beginning. Parking lots are usually flat, which makes things a bit more difficult–a small rise that gives you a little (but not too much) momentum can help you stay upright, first as you learn to balance, and then as you learn to pedal and brake. At the bottom you just run off into the grass and put your feet down–and if you take a tumble your landing is softer. We used junction hollow trail for that for our sons (but not during bike rush hour).

Best of luck–hope to see you here on the boards and out on a ride!


byogman

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Feb 21 2013 at 11:04am #

Balance vastly improves with just a tiny bit of forward velocity. The difference between .5-1mph and even just 3-4mph is night and day. Starting with a little gravity on your side helps you carry stabilizing speed from your initial push longer, maybe even for the whole length of that gentle slope. Once you’ve done that a decent number times you will start to get a far more balanced feeling and it will be much easier to contemplate taking your feet off the foot dragging level and putting them on the pedals.


Drewbacca

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Feb 21 2013 at 11:13am #

I’ll help too! I’ll hand out in the back ground attempting to use my roller-blades. The comic relief will help you to forget your anxiety about learning to ride. LOL


Mikhail

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Feb 22 2013 at 9:18am #

Pseudacris wrote:oval

I think the Oval is the best place to learn. internal circle is almost ideal, big, flat and absolutely no cars. And a lot of bikers. :)

BTW PMTCC has plans (not finilized yet) to offer a basic class to teach beginners some “how to” (avoidance, turning, looking backwards, etc). Preliminary it’s going to happen at UPMC parking lot at the end of EFT during weekend. As soon I have more details I’ll post them on the board.


Mikhail

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Feb 24 2013 at 11:15pm #

PMTCC will have “bicycling 101″ on April 3rd, 2013 from 11:00 am till 3:00 pm at the Oval.


Mikhail

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Feb 25 2013 at 11:09am #

Correction. Event is scheduled for April 20th, 2013.

BIKE 101&102 @ The Oval
When: Saturday, Apr 20, 2013
Where: 1401 Washington Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA (map)

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