Best way forward with training for bike?

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I think I may have been a little ambitious with the bike I have already bought and could use some advise on the best way of getting in to being able to ride it safely.
I am in my mid-fifties and was very fit and athletic until I was in a serious accident a year ago. I am mostly recovered, but have reduced strength in my right arm, and a very wonky left ankle (it is weight bearing, but very reduced in strength and flexibility). As a result of this, I can't walk very long distances (a mile or so is about all my foot will cope with and I can't easily balance on just that foot for any length of time) and my intention is to take up cycling (partially for the fun of being able to get outside again, partially for fitness, and partially to be able to get to the local swimming pool about two miles away to train there).
So I bought a bike. It is a Huffy mountain bike with an 18" frame and 26" wheels. This is the right size for me according to the size chart on Amazon - I am 165cm and weigh 60kg. Sitting on the saddle, I can rest my toes on the ground, which I believe is supposed to be the correct saddle height but I have a degree of difficulty swinging my bad leg over the bar on the frame to get on and off.
Because we live a long way (an hour's drive) from the nearest cycle shop, I bought it online and I think this may have been a mistake. Firstly, I have overestimated my aerobic fitness and sense of balance by basing it on the last time I rode a bike, which was several years ago before the accident. I know these can both be worked on, but although I can get on the bike and ride it around outside the house, I don't feel very safe. This is partially because access from our house is down a steeply sloping drive, round a steep bend on to a forestry track. With some difficulty, I pushed the bike down the drive and over the rough track about 500m to where it meets a tarmac road. Once I was on the road I could ride ok(ish), but was very nervous and unbalanced. So I put some stabilizers on as a temporary measure (it is just as well there is no one to see me because I look a right idiot!).
With the stabilizers on it is a really major task getting the bike to the road (because they don't handle well on rough surfaces) so I can practice - but it is doable.

So after all that explanation, I suppose my question is. Should I persevere with the bike I have bought or buy a different smaller/lighter one? My husband thinks I should buy a static frame for the existing bike and train indoors on it to build my strength and balance, but I am concerned that the actual frame size is just too large, and I will never be able to ride it with any degree of confidence no matter how much I train on it as a static bike. Also, will the static frame actually help my balance at all?
Or should I buy a different, much smaller bike with a conventional "ladies style" frame which would be lighter, easier to get on and off, and use this for a few months as a trainer, before transitioning onto the bigger mountain bike? The small commuter style bike will be useless around here in the medium term because apart from the "main" road which is tarmacked, all the routes around here are rough forestry tracks.
Or any other good ideas for how I can get started on this before I go completely stir crazy? Money isn't really an issue, but I don't really want to end up with a whole load of useless kit that I end up giving away.


Unfortunately I know nothing about mountain bikes so can't really help you there.

To answer one part of your question though, my legs are getting weaker and weaker (age related) but since buying a decent indoor trainer and sticking one of my spare bikes on it I can feel a bit more strength in the legs when I go out on a "real" bike ride.

I went for a fluid trainer as you can't really "cheat" on them, your body weight keeps the wheel on the roller so there is no let up. I believe, and I stand to be corrected, that you can adjust the magnetic ones to make life a bit easier.

I won't for one minute say that I enjoy it but have stuck at it and hopefully it will bear more improvement in my outdoor cycling.

I would say they are definitely worth a shot but, imho, you do have to be disciplined with it, it would be quite easy to say "can't be bothered today"
Bike is probably fine for your needs. Two miles is going to be less than ten minutes cycling really.

Maybe drop the saddle just a little bit - you won't be as efficient with the power output but you'll probably feel a little more stable - at least until you build up your confidence.

As to getting your bad leg over the bars - just stand on the left hand side of the bike - lean the bike in towards you and put your good right leg over ?

It sounds like you just need a bit more confidence and a bit of practice. Can you drive your bike to a flat empty carpark or something to practice on for a bit?


I like steel bikes and I cannot lie..
Lots to unpack there; a few fleeting thoughts for what they're worth.

Huffy seem to be a lowish-end brand, suggesting that the bike will likely be heavier / more unwieldy than alternatives; which probably won't help your confidence. Do you have a link to the exact bike?

Bike sizing is an absolute minefield; the single "size" metric (be that in inches or S/M/L etc) quoted can vary enormously from one brand to the next and really is next to useless. The figures you want to look at are reach and stack, however these are only really of use if you have known-good values from a bike you're comfortable on.

Bike fit is a whole lifelong journey in and of itself; however a few basics... IMO a good ballpark method of setting saddle height is to set it so that your leg is dead straight when your heel is on the pedal; which will give you a slight bend at the knee at full pedal extension when your foot is in the correct place. Your relationship to the floor is secondary at best, in that it only matters when your stationary and you can easily adjust it by leaning the bike.

The next big one is reach; the bike might actually be too big, but if you're not confident or familiar this can exacerbate this feeling. What are your arms doing on the bike? If they're dead-straight with elbows locked and shoulders extended forwards it's likely the reach (and by extension potentially the bike size) is too great. You should get a better feel for this when you're able to cover more mileage; if you're too stretched out you'll feel it in your neck, shoulders and lower back.

When starting essentially from scratch as you evidently are, try to eliminate all the unnecessary hazards and start out on a clean, dry, flat piece of tarmac. Grads, rough terrain etc will all complicate things and act to suppress your confidence at the very beginning; of course as you develop then you should feel better at tackling these additional challenges.

Finally MTBs are great off-road but poor all-rounders and will punish you on-road with high rolling resistance.. so, if your terrain is mixed you might be better off in the long run with something more balanced - like a gravel bike or tourer with some appropriate tyres.

While what you have might not be ideal, it's at least a starting point that will hopefully allow you to identify areas of potential improvement that you can build on in future with mods to that bike or when looking for a replacement.
The bike/ online purchase definitely doesn't sound ideal like @wafter says. But how weak is your right hand hand @Inadorel it maybe the brakes need to be set up Continental/US style and reversed. Unless you have knee pain (or it results from it, probably won't unless you intend on some long hard rides) there's no harm in lowering the saddle if it makes it easier for you too. Having the bike in the right gear too helps. I like a middle'ish gear; too low a gear doesn't feel right to me I need to push off against something with my dominant foot (right) about 2 or 3 O'clock. Too high a gear can make it impossibly hard though. Google suggests you have a tripple (three rings at the front) I suggest you set it so you re in the middle one and do all your shifting on the rear cog. On the trainer front it'll be good for building strength but it wont really do anything for your balance.


Girl from the North Country
How quiet is that tarmaced road? I'm imagining you in a really rural spot with not many people about and little traffic. I'd suggest taking the stablisers off, maybe lowering the saddle as suggested above just until you get more confident. Try riding back and forwards on a decent, flattish piece of road to get more confident. You're bound to be a bit wobbly having been off a bike for a while - and that's without your other injuries.

Are you in such a quiet, safe place that you could perhaps leave the bike somewhere near the tarmac rather than having to move it everytime? I know of rural places where people happily and safely leave a big unlocked at a bus stop while going off to school/work for the day. If you could avoid the pushing the bike to and from the road it'll let you save your energy and enthusiasm for the actual riding.


Also you may feel your lacking in confidence but by riding a bit faster then the bike actually becomes more stable and you then build confidence. That is what I found with my children. The issue was starting and stopping, once they realised that more speed increased stability they were off .

Make of it what you will. .


Thanks for the responses. I think that the answer is to persevere with the bike I have. I just have a confidence issue caused by the dodgy ankle and my fear about falling on the replacement shoulder joint and I am sure I will be able to overcome it in time. Ironically, however, I have just been given the ok to have my ankle joint replaced next month, so the bike I just bought will have to go on hold for the next few months. When I come back to it, hopefully I will be able to stand confidently on my left foot.
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