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Giant-Steps: GREAT story! Post a pic on your spark page!
GIANT--that's like a story about a rescued puppy...I love it!
I might have the oldest beater bike in the group.
I was wrenching at a bike shop in the mid '80's. A customer left his Campy equiped early 1970's Reynolds 531 Gitaine locked up to a bike rack over spring break and someone tried to steal it. Apparently at first they thought that the lock only went through the wheels so they cut out all the spokes to steal it. When they discovered that the lock also went through the frame they tried to use the bike as a lever to try to break the lock and bent the frame and fork. When this failed they stole the Campy NR rear deraillure off of it (still commonly used on race bikes).
When I told the customer how much it would cost to get his bike back on the road he said that there was no way he could spend that kind of money. He asked me what the bike was worth. I told him it was a very nice bike with Campy parts and that it would be worth something who could use the French threaded parts but it wasn't worth much to me. He asked me if I'd give him $20 for it. I figured that even if I could only use the chainrings it'd be worth $20.
Over the next few months it became a labor of love. I straightened the frame and checked it with the string test. I was going to put in a new fork because it looked hopeless to me but one of the other mechanics asked if he could try straightening it and he got it perfect. It had been very amateurly painted a few times so I striped it down to bare metal and painted it with Krylon and it came out pretty darn good. I removed the cogs from the freewheel then built it into a wheel so I could remove the freewheel core. Luckily it had English threaded hubs instead of French. I gave away a few parts to young racers who needed them but I managed to replace them with Campy parts from other crashed bikes over time. Even though it is over 30 years old it rides great. It is the only bike I have with toe clips and straps instead of clipless pedals so I run errands on it, pull my daughter in a trailer etc. The bike doesn't look like much and isn't really worth anything so as soon as the bottom bracket wears out I'll probably junk it. The only French threaded bottom brackets available now are Phil Wood and one of those would cost a lot more than my bike is worth.
My commute bike is 11 years old - a Marin hybrid. Other than new tires, routine brake pad changes, cable replacements, new shifters (one fell apart on the way to work), new seat, new handlebar grips, and cliplesss pedals, it's original. AND IT'S GREAT for commuting.
I saved my pennies for a road bike, but I don't ride it to work. I have a mountain bike too. I even owned an e-bike once. I'm going to need new wheels on my commute bike this year, but I wouldn't trade it in for a new bike. I have it fine-tuned to work for the commute. I get it tuned up every year. My LBS knows to make sure the shifting is running sweet, otherwise I'll be bringing it back. Grant it, it was a mid-ranged bike at the time ($700 10 years ago), and I added a rack, full fenders, lights, computer. Ride for awhile before ditching it for a new one.
Edited by: NORMAVI at: 2/10/2009 (18:42)
He's right--a 10-12 year old bike should get you started. Just get your tune up and replace the dangerous stuff. Then start saving for the big purchase, because trust me--it's gonna happen!
That is awesome that one of you co-workers can serve as a "bike escort" as you get started. It will make you feel much more comfortable with the route and the traffic issues.
Bike people *are* cool!
Until this past October before I bought my 2005 Giant OCR Limited composite bike; I was riding a 1989 Raleigh Technium 450. One the first in aluminum framing and a mid-high range bike at the time. I too had not done any signifigant riding on it as well during the past 18 yrs.. I did get it tuned up and I was able to put on over 1400 miles on it since last mid- April.
It was not until I broke a spoke during my century ride in september that I was convinced that i need to buy a newer bike. The technician at one of the rest stops almost broke down laughing when he saw my bike. he was impressed on how good of shape it was in and that i still had the original stock parts on it with the exception of the handle bars.
My point to all of this is that after about 6 onths of riding, you are going to get the bug and when you see other riders pedaling effortlessly and going faster; you are going to want the new technology. Sooo start saving your quarters, dimes, and nickels now.
Good luck, enjoy and have fun in your new endeavors.
Cool! I spent some time this weekend scoping out bike shops. There's one down the street from my house where I can take my bike and they will go over it all with me and tell me what I need to get my bike in shape.
To answer the question - my bike is about 10-12 years old. The last significant ride I used it for was about 4 years ago, but I have gone out a few times, just around the park this past summer. I know for sure that I at least need new brakes. I'm sure I could use a whole new bike, but I can't afford that at the moment. I'll see what my options are after I take it to the bike shop and see what I need.
There are a few people at work who are big into bike riding (they ride to work every day, even in the snow, and some have a 40+ mile round trip! That seems crazy to me at this point.) and I talked to a couple of them about a good route to take. One of them goes by my house on his way in, so when I'm ready he's going to ride with me until I'm comfortable with it.
Bike people are cool.
I'd echo the helmet, lights, reflective outerwear/vest comments (and the equipment check at the LBS) and add a few commuting tips.
Consider mudflaps. Even if you don't plan to cycle during questionable/bad weather, you may find yourself riding through remnants of bad weather (puddles). If you can change/shower at your workplace, this may not be an issue (if saddlebags protect your work clothes from the elements), but it could be if you ride in your work clothes for a short commute.
Also include a reliable lock and scope out where you are going to park/leave your bike during the day.
Good luck, and enjoy the commute! I found that once I got used to the route and routine, I really enjoyed my bicycle commuting time.
2009 Cycling Goal: 2,750 miles (3,500 miles 8/15)
Year to 10/2: 3,255 miles
2008 2,500 mi/2,419.1 logged (80.9 miles short)
2007 (1/2 Year): 1,000 mi/ 1,002 logged!!
How old is your bike? I was under the impression that is was an older bike that you had last ridden 4 years ago, but hadn't been on for several years before that. Or is it a 4 year old bike?
Great advice from everyone here, I agree with all of it.
Definitely get your bike checked out at the LBS. Get a new helmet while you're at it and make sure it fits. Ask if they can show you how to change your tires (both front and rear) and get a saddlebag and carry the requisite gear with you. Then practise, practise, practise tire changing in your garage.
The first couple of tire changes will be slow but you'll get quicker and quicker with time - a leisurely tire change for me takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on tire/rim combo. And believe me, the last thing you want is to be doing your first ever tire change when it's getting dark, and it's raining.
Also practise riding in a straight line. This is harder than it looks! You also want to practise ride in a straight line with one hand on the bars - again, this is harder than it looks. Then you want to practise riding in a straight line while shoulder checking - this is DEFINITELY harder than it looks.
When I first emerge on the road after winter, I spend some time in a local carpark doing bike handling drills. It doesn't take very long (1-2x per week, 10-15 mins per session), but these skills are very valuable on the road. As a motorist, it's scary when you see a cyclist wobbling all over the road. The cyclists which are predictable and can signal without veering all over the place are much less stressful to deal with.
Obey all laws of the road (don't run red lights) and be prepared to give way at all times even though you may have priority. Do not ride on the sidewalks - you are supposed to be on the road, be on the road. If the roads are too busy, find a slightly longer, but quieter route in to work - makes for a more relaxing ride. If you're starting your commute in the dusk/dark, make sure you can be seen - lots of blinky lights and a high-vis green jacket work well for my commute.
Edited by: WONGERCHI at: 2/9/2009 (10:05)
In God we trust, all others bring data.
- W. Edwards Demings
If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.
Specificity, specificity, specificity.
The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".
- Frank Kotsonis
Thanks very much for all the advice! You people are awesome! I'm really looking forward to getting out there, but I do have some work to do in the meantime. I really appreciate the help.
Generally the same comments from me. Get the bike tuned at a local bike shop. Start a relationship with them. Bike shops are almost always good to deal with if you treat them fair.
The only opinion from me is to keep your current bike. A four year old bike with little use is very viable. You don't need the latest Tour De France set up to commute. If after a while you are certain that commuting is going to work for you and the terrain suggests that a hybrid or mountain bike with road tires will be more reliable, then make the jump.
BE SAFE - HELMET, LIGHTS, CAUTION!
echoing what other's said, take your bike to a good bike shop and let them check it over. Tell them you want to start riding to work and they should give you some advice. Commuter bikes do not have to be pretty or state of the art but they do need to be functional and safe.
One thing I'm sold on for commuting is Mr Tuffy tire liners. I use these on my beater bike and I go years between flats. These tire liners do add weight and rolling resistance and make the bike feel a little more sluggish but when you ride for transportation getting flats is a real drag. Don't try solid tires though. They are a bear to get on and they ride terrible, they are heavy, slow, and give a harsh uncomfortable ride.
If you have good shoulders to ride on than that can be great but do keep an eye out for glass. Often shoulders have a lot of glass and debris since cars tend to brush all this aside.
For making left turns you will need to prepare by moving to the left side of the lane where motorcycles typically ride. If the road is too busy and treacherous this can be difficult and dangerous. I generally choose routes that avoid dangerous intersections even if they add a few miles to my commute (more miles=more exercise right?).
Shoulder check, shoulder check, shoulder check! Learn to look behind you before you move around debris, parked cars, to turn left. Proper signalling is secondary to knowing first if it is safe to change your position on the road.
If you find it difficult to shoulder check, learn to drop your left shoulder (bend your elbow a bit) and then swing your head down and to the side. That's easier than just trying to turn it to the side and back.
Stay out of the "door prize" zone of parked cars with opening doors.
Don't pass right-turning vehicles, especially trucks on the right. If a truck touches you, you will not be deflected away but pulled underneath.
If a lane is too narrow to share with cars, and there is a lane for them to pass you, ride in the middle - don't tempt them to squeeze by. But if the lane is narrow, speeds are high and there are no passing ops, pick a different route.
Look for a League of America Bicyclists (Lab) smart cycling course (they have instructors in Colorado) or just read up on their safety tips at http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/better
I took a similar course, and although one would argue "I don't need to learn to ride a bike", it gave me many traffic survival skills and I am a better cyclist and more confident because of it.
Last: have fun!! Don't get angry in traffic.
Remember you are out in the fresh air getting exercise and motorists are cooped up in a stress machine.
Edited by: NORMAVI at: 2/6/2009 (22:35)
Helmet, Helmet, Helmet!!!!!
I would just repeat the very sound advice given so far- so I'll just say, keep on asking anything that comes to mind and ENJOY getting back on your bike!
Your local bike shop (frequently LBS) should be able to cover a tune up, and if they don't do maintenance and repare classes should be able to tell you where you can find them.
Riding on the right shoulder (or even better bike lane) is ideal. If you need to turn left you can signal for a left turn check traffic and move into the left turn lane, or if you're timid about that, or traffic is bad you can cross as if you are going straight, and then wait for the light and cross so that you end up heading the right direction.
To make yourself most visible you'll want front and back lights any time it's even near dark, and brightly colored clothing. There are also reflective strips you can put on yourself or your bike.
You'll also want a helmet, and you can put reflective strips on that as well if you want to be extra visible.
Take your bike to the bike shop and get it checked. Then ask if they have classes on how to change a tire or fix your brake, and do basic road maintenence. You can find instruction videos online for free - can't remember the URL but just google, "How to change your bike tire or remove the wheel or replace or fix a broken chain etc". Find out if your state DOT has a bicycle division or the state bicycle assoc. - they may have rules of the road booklets (or videos) for bicyclists.
Mostly you act as a car except that you stay as far to the right as practical. That really means within two feet of the LEFT of the white line BUT motorists think it means the edge of the road - like in the breakdown lane or shoulder lane. So ride on the shoulder if it is wide enough. When you make a left turn you get over in right side of the left turn lane. If that scares you - just go to the crosswalk and cross like a pedestrian until you get more experience.
In Florida the LAW is that cars must give you a three foot clearance as they pass on your left BUT it is very often ignored by the drivers. So it is always better to take your time and NEVER let the situation or other riders force you into doing something in a hurry outside your comfort zone.
Always use your hand signals - Use a rear view mirror and (I always) assume that everyone driving cars is on "crack" and will do anything. So if in doubt get off the road - yield - bail out.
Be very careful of trucks pulling trailers you don't see. I remember out west a Motor home passed me pulling a square box trailer that was not seen until it was beside me - and then behind that was a boat on another trailer. I never saw the second and third and it taught me a lesson to never relax your vigilance just because what you saw has passed you - there may be more coming you didn't see. Make sure it is clear back there. Also right turning trucks rear wheels may get close to the curb on the right side of the road and the driver may not see you - watch out behind a turnig truck.
And lastly, If you ride on the sidewalk - ride on the side in the direction of the traffic not against it. Drivers exiting onto and off the road expect traffic to be coming from that direction - they look in that direction and may not see you coming from the other way - especially on the sidewalk.
Hope that gets you started!!
Be safe and have fun.
Do, or Do Not.
There is no "TRY"!
It is obvious that we cannot use the same thinking to solve a problem that we have been using to cause it.
LOL, Bev, it looks like we were writing our *essays* at the same time.
I loved your comment: "A bicycle has all the same rights as any other vehicle, but will not win in a fight."
You've come to the right place if you have questions! Let's see if I can start...
Great idea to get some practice now before you hit the road during commuting times (read: more cars on the road, and few people paying attention!)
First, absolutely get your bike checked out for safety. Don't be surprised if you need new tires and tubes (the are rubber and probably dry-rotted). You may also need new brake pads (they are usually rubber too). The chain will probably need cleaning. Don't spend too much beyond that to start--you want to be safe, but not spend so much you could buy a new bike! Especially if this is a bike that was just purchased 4 years ago for the tri. If it is older, you should probably *consider* a new bike, even if this was a nice one. Technology has made so many advances, even for the low end of the market. Besides, shopping for bikes is fun! You get to test ride them all. :)
Most local bike shops (LBS) will show you how to change your tube, and make sure you have the supplies to do it on the road. I know REI is a big chain that does a Biking 101 seminar that is free, which reviews the basics of bike repair and bike safety. The one near me offers the seminar about once a month, year round.
Trust your LBS. Yes, they may be a little more expensive, but you will acquire a great amount on knowledge and personal service from them.
In Maryland, the law says that you should ride as far to the right AS IS SAFE. So if the shoulder is in bad condition and unsafe, use your right lane. To make a left turn, merge across traffic, one lane at a time, signalling so drivers know what you are trying to do. To start, practice in a neighborhood, or just pick a route that is all right turns (it makes a nice loop!) Someone else might be able to explain that better.
It's a great way to get your exercise in over the course of the day, and good luck. Keep asking questions!
Welcome to the team and congratulations on getting back on the bike. How nice to live within commuting distance.
I would recommend having the bike checked out before depending on it. Most bike shops will teach you how to fix a flat and do minor repairs. If not, fine a local bike club and see if they can help. You can also find a lot of information online.
I would also recommend a rear view mirror and a flashing light on the back. I have one that clips under the seat, but can also be attached to a backpack. Make sure you have a light in case it gets dark before you get home, and some reflective/day glow clothing. Check with local laws, some states may require you to wear a safety vest.
In Alabama you are required to ride as far to the right as is safe and you may ride no more than 2 abreast. When turning left, signal and move to the left of the lane as soon as it is safe to do so. A bicycle has all the same rights as any other vehicle, but will not win in a fight. Just be very cautious and use your senses.
You can check your states drivers handbook for specific information. There should be a section on bicycles.
One Day at a Time:
1) walk/ride 30 minutes
2) organize something
3) 3 fruits/veges daily
4) sew 1 bobbin full
5) do a good deed
1) ride 100 miles, walk 5 miles per week
2) finish cleaning closets
3) finish 2 UFOs
Hello! This may sound kind of weird, but I'm 37-years-old and I barely know how to ride a bike. :) Good times. I never had a bike growing up and have not really been around people who ride bikes, so it's never been a thing I needed to know how to do.
I have a bike that's been sitting in my garage for several years. I did a triathlon about 4 years ago and that's pretty much the only time I've ever used it. It's a good bike (couldn't tell you what kind, though) and I would like to get more use out of it.
My company just moved their office and now I'm within riding distance (for me) and I'd really like to be able to ride my bike to work when the weather gets nicer out. So, I thought I should start preparing now so that I'm ready when the weather is nice.
Should I take my bike somewhere and have it looked over to make sure everything's still working?
Is there a class I can take on how to change the tubes? One of my fears, for some reason, is that I'll get a flat tire half way to work and have to walk my bike the rest of the way and then walk my bike home at night because I don't know how to change my tire.
I know the hand gestures I'm supposed to use to let people know when I'm turning. Should I ride on the right shoulder all the time? What do I do if I need to turn left and I'm on the right shoulder? I'm a little freaked out about riding in the lanes. Should I be? I always try to pay attention to bike riders and they're always on the shoulder. How do they turn left?
OK, that's enough for now. I'm sure I'm coming across as a complete idiot, but that's what I get for waiting so long to ride a darn bike!