Advice for a total noob!

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Ham, 20 Feb 2008.

  1. Ham

    Ham New Member

    Hi, looking for some advice guys.

    I am an overweight 51 year old who smokes likes the bint out of Ab Fab and has basically ignored fitness levels for years.

    My plan of action to address these lamentable conditions is in hand and, for this, I need all the advice that can be given.

    At a given date (Good Friday) I intend to junk the fags and to give me an incentive I need a challenge. Within 2 weeks of being smoke free I intend to cycle to work on most days (when not hissing it down, basically). This is a 17 -18 mile journey one way (34-36 miles total) Now, I don’t intend to just dive into that with my level of fitness – I intend to do a few 10 miles runs for practice. I have cycled most of my life but only for short (3-5 miles) distances and I am quite muscular (though me lung are half shot!)

    Questions: 1. Is this a reasonable challenge?
    2. What bike should I be looking for? (£300-£400 range) Racing/Tour?
    3. What gear is a ‘must’
    4. I am 5”6” - what size frame am I looking at?

  2. walker

    walker New Member

    Bromley, Kent
    I would initially say go stedy with the fag quiting business. If you have been smoking most of your life it's highly likely that the body will start a cleaning process and you will find yourself wheezing more than you should. Your body is trying to do two things at once and you don't want your first few cycle rides to be bad one's thus putting you off cycling for life.
    I'd break into the distances easily, try doing 10 miles and work your way up. Whatever you do don't smoke and cycle at the same time.

    What sort of cycling will you be doing? mainly road? mainly off road? a bit of both? it's easier to give us more details on these basis then we can advise you as to what bike is suitable for your needs.

    Gear thats a 'must' are your basic Spares i.e. Inner Tubes, light's (if you plan on being out after dark) a helmet, I would advise getting some glasses too, as in summer the odd bug can take you out.
  3. Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Guildford / London
    wrt a bike - there are loads to be had, go and try some out, you will find out which one you like best.

    Essential gear - Quality cycling shorts that fit you properly.
    - on every trip - pump, patches, spare tube, multi-tool.
    cycling tops - dead cheap from decathlon, and so much more comfortable and suited to that kind of distance than regular sports clothes.
    - panniers, you might like to go for a cyclocross type bike that can take a pannier or two, get the load off your back and onto the bike.
  4. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Welcome! And here's my two penn'orth...

    Reasonable challange? Probably. I can't say from experience, because I've never tackled a commute of that length, but since you are already capable of doing more than a mile, you've more chance of managing than many people. I would say, don't force yourself to do it everyday, at first. Your body will need rest to recover, and there is nothing 'copping out' about doing it every other day to start with, or less, even... If there was anyway you could do bike in, leave bike there, bus home, bus in next day, bike home, that would make it easier to start off - 17 miles is not too hard, but by the end of the day, you may regret having to do the 17 home again. But a lot of it is mental attitude. So go for it, but listen to your body, and give it a break when you need to.

    What type of bike - I'm no good on specific models, but I'd generally opt for more of a touring type than a racing type, because it needs to be moderately robust to do that day in, day out, carrying you and your gear, possibly on potholey roads. The important thing is to try a few, and get something you are comfortable with - whether you have drop bars, triple chainrings, any of that, what matters is that it feels right for you. After all, you're going to be spending a good couple of hours a day on it.

    What gear is essential? Again, it's personal choice, but for ME, over that distance, it would be pannier(s) (therefore, a bike with a rack), a DECENT lock (don't rely on a flimsey cable), lights, basic repair kit/tool and pump, maybe waterproof trousers or rainlegs, a decent waterproof breathable jacket. Whether you choose to ride in work clothes or not depends on your work clothes and how sweaty you intend to get. You might prefer to have cycle specific clothing - something like Bikesters, and a proper top (but a t shirt will do) and a longsleeved top as well. A helmet is a question of personal choice - I wear one, mostly because my Mum would shout at me otherwise.:wacko:

    Frame size, no idea, but someone will know...:wacko:
  5. Crackle

    Crackle Squatter

    1. Sounds reasonable, provided you break yourself in gently as you are suggesting. I'd also think of cycling it one way. Say take the bike in the car cycle home and back the next day. General advice is to increase our mileage by 10% a week but of course you have to start somewhere.

    2. Oooh big question. What do you ride now? If it's roadwork a hybrid or a road bike but not a mtn bike for those distances. Though that's a very personal choice.

    3. Walker's list and add waterproofs, gloves and cycling shoes with a stiff sole. You can think about cleats later on then, unless you already have them. They'll make a big difference to your effeciency.

    4. Depends on the bike as the geomaetry seems to be measured different on type of bike and manufacturer. For a roadbike, I'd say start at a 51cm frame.
  6. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    You don't need all the gear at once... you are going to keep looking at stuff ... so you may as well save some of it for your continual grazing purchases:biggrin:.

    Given the distances covered I think the pannier, rack, lock, water bottle holder and probably cycle specific bottom half clothing to start - together with cyclecraft (a book with good advice about road positioning). And of course puncture repair kit and pump. You can then gradually add the rest, as quickly or slowly as you find necessary.
  7. Ludwig

    Ludwig Hopeless romantic

    A hardtail mountain bike with a 48 -38 -28 crank and something like a 12-28 cassette/freewheel will perform very will on the road, climb superbly and you can ride the off roads routes as well to build up strength and stamina.
    Standard road bikes although faster are more prone to punctures and wheel buckling. The fatter tyres on a mtb will take the potholes and lumps in the road better and these days are the commuters bike of choice.
    Build your fitness up slowly - 18 miles is a long way after a hard days work.
  8. giant man

    giant man New Member

    Essex innit?
    Well done ham for recognising you have a problem and wanting to do something about it! well done sir!
  9. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    I'm sure you'll manage it but the danger might be biting off more than you can chew and getting demoralised. Don't be afraid to readjust your goals if necessary. All the best and let us know how you get on.
  10. Don't try and do too much too soon. Break yourself in gently with the commute. Maybe start by doing a couple of days a week then build up from there. 17-18 miles is going to take anything from and hour to an hour and a half at a reasonable pace.
    Final piece of advice - padded shorts!!
  11. Muddyfox

    Muddyfox Veteran

    Ditto what Giant Man said ...

    Good luck with quitting the cigarettes are you going to use any of the Nicotine replacement stuff ? i'm using the patches and i have'nt had a cigarette for 3 weeks :smile: although i now have a new addiction for Blueberry Muffins ;)

  12. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Disagree with the above.
    If I was cycling 18 miles each way on roads the last thing I'd want is a mountain bike. Suspension even at the front is a waste of time and saps effort, unless you can lock-it...then you might as well have a lighter rigid fork in the first place. Fat tyres MTB tyres even with slicks just are not necessary on roads and road wheels rarely buckle. The bike you describe is certainly NOT the commuter bike of choice for the distances required.

    My suggestions would be a good hybrid, something like a Speciallized Sirrus variant if you prefer flat bars, or a Giant SCR if you prefer drop bars. The Giant is a fairly gentle positioned drop-bar rather than a balls-out race rocket. The pros of drops are slightly improved aerodynamics and a wider variety of hand/arm/back positions for longer distance comfort. Wheels and tyres will be well up to the task. Both are regular commuting steeds.

    Both bikes will have triple chainrings for wide range gearing, will take full mudguards and a rear-rack if required. Full guard capability is pretty useful on a commuter hack.

    Agree that good clothing helps...start with shorts and a good waterproof, Altura or similar. DHB kit at Wiggle as well as Halfrauds own kit (Bike-line) is VG VFM.
    Clipless pedals are a real benefit for that distance too. Shimano SPD's are often the first system of choice being easy to use, double sided pedals being available and shoes you can actually walk in.

    Other than that, a good track-pump is a good investment, Cyclecraft will help you stay alive, P-repair kit and knowing how to use it is good too.
    Finaly a good LBS (Local Bike Shop) is a very fine friend.

    Agree with others,as an ex-smoker returning to cycling I can vouch for taking it easy at first, build miles and confidence before plunging in at the deep end. Oh, and it'll be absolutely worth it.

    Keep asking questions.
  13. Muddyfox

    Muddyfox Veteran

    I would agree with this ... i've got a set of slicks for my mountain bike but when i test rode a sports hybrid thingy (GT Zum i think) it was much much quicker for alot less effort

  14. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    FWIW i find that the more i tell people around me what I am going to do/achieve the harder it is not to achieve tell the world you are packing in smoking and will be riding yourelf fit etc...and keep telling for me...but it may not for everyone.

    Good winter bike clothing is a must...that way there are no excuses when it rains or gets grim outside.
  15. Well done Ham. I'd echo what others have said, mostly. A touring bike makes an excellent commuter and can be used for other stuff as you start to get more into cycling. If you're willing to buy secondhand, Dawes Galaxies can be picked up pretty cheaply.
    Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
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