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  1. #1
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    Stupid Newbie Q's

    I spend lots of time backpacking in NW Arkansas and decided to ride a while. Until today at the bike shop I haven't been on a bike since I was about 12 (trust me, not pretty). Even though I didn't have alot of $$$ to spend the guy at the bike shop let me ride anything and I ended up on about 5 different bikes. I ended up picking out a Specialized Hard Rock. Mainly because it felt the best to me. Of course it was in the upper end of my budget and they didn't take Discover so now it sits in wait in the Lay-a-way for the next three weeks as I find some extra cash here and there. Anyway, on to the newbie Q's: How long should I stay on nice safe flat ground before hitting the steep trails? Did I pick a good entry level bike? I can walk with a 35lb pack about 12 miles a day in steep terrain, I can at least push a bike that far right? I dont really need the skin tight shorts do I? Any suggestions on helments? I'm guessing the best way to figure out the whole 21 speed gear stuff is to just screw with it right (bike store guy explained it but it was a little over my head)? Thanks to anyone willing to help me with a new hobby that will most likely end in a very cool/painful death or at least one that will be entertaining to anyone who gets to see it.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    I spend lots of time backpacking in NW Arkansas and decided to ride a while. Until today at the bike shop I haven't been on a bike since I was about 12 (trust me, not pretty). Even though I didn't have alot of $$$ to spend the guy at the bike shop let me ride anything and I ended up on about 5 different bikes. I ended up picking out a Specialized Hard Rock. Mainly because it felt the best to me. Of course it was in the upper end of my budget and they didn't take Discover so now it sits in wait in the Lay-a-way for the next three weeks as I find some extra cash here and there. Anyway, on to the newbie Q's: How long should I stay on nice safe flat ground before hitting the steep trails? Did I pick a good entry level bike? I can walk with a 35lb pack about 12 miles a day in steep terrain, I can at least push a bike that far right? I dont really need the skin tight shorts do I? Any suggestions on helments? I'm guessing the best way to figure out the whole 21 speed gear stuff is to just screw with it right (bike store guy explained it but it was a little over my head)? Thanks to anyone willing to help me with a new hobby that will most likely end in a very cool/painful death or at least one that will be entertaining to anyone who gets to see it.
    First of all, read the posts in the Beginner's forum, and you'll get lots of info.

    Stay on nice safe ground for 5 minutes, then hit gradually steeper stuff as long as you feel confident.
    You picked a good bike.
    If you hike 12 miles, riding that far will be no problem. I wouldn't carry a 35 pound pack while biking.
    Wear shorts that are comfortable. The lycra shorts as well as bike-specific baggies have padding in the back/bottom to make long rides more comfortable. Purley optional.
    Get a helmet. Try on several different brands--some brands like Giro work for one shape head, while others, like Specialized fit on different shape heads. If it's even a tiny bit uncomfortable in the store, it will be very uncomfortable after 3 hours riding. Sort of like hiking boots.
    Gears take a bit of practice. The main thing is you shouldn't be peddling really hard when you shift--ease off the pedals a bit as you shift. See the beginner's forum about how to take care of your chain.

    And the most important rule is to have fun
    我的镀铬光泽的冰柱一样,我骑在镇附近在我的低骑手自行车

  3. #3
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    I would advise against charging a 12 mile ride right out of the gate. Cycling and hiking use different muscles, and pushing a bike sucks. Try a 5 mile loop first and see how it goes. If you still feel great then do another loop.

  4. #4
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    I'd do some small trails over and over again in one shot, and see how far you can go before you're pooped out. The reason to do small trails is that you're never far away from your car/ house, and can bail quickly if you feel too tired.
    The worst feeling is going on a huge bike ride and thinking that you'll never make it back. That scared the hell out of me.

  5. #5
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    I learned to start slow after my first backpacking trip. There is a lot of hills here so I'll start riding on the road close to home. Theres also a bike trail a mile or two from work that is pretty short I'll try out. I'm really excited about getting out on the trail and doing something new but not at the expense of life or limb. One question I forgot to ask: Do you guys usually ride alone or with a partner? I prefer alone time but that seems a little risky or at least at first. Thanks again for the help.

  6. #6
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    You can ride alone, but I would advise carrying a mobile phone in case things do go wrong. a partner is better in case things do go wrong they can always go and get help or stop and talk to you when you have to fix a flat, or stop to have a drink and admire the views.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    Anyway, on to the newbie Q's: How long should I stay on nice safe flat ground before hitting the steep trails?
    You can hit the steep stuff as soon as you feel comfortable. After 5 minutes, after 5 rides, it's how confident you feel. As others have mentioned, probably pick shorter loops to start with.

    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    Did I pick a good entry level bike?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    I can walk with a 35lb pack about 12 miles a day in steep terrain, I can at least push a bike that far right?
    Probably, but pushing a bike isn't the same as carrying a pack on your back. I would rather carry a backpack than push a bike. But you probably wouldn't actually be pushing the back THAT far

    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    I dont really need the skin tight shorts do I?
    No, you don't NEED them, but they do make long rides much more comfortable. Buy the baggies that have the chamois in them--that way you have the benefit of the chamois, but don't have the skin-tight look if that is embarassing to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    Any suggestions on helments?
    One that fits. The more expensive helmets usually have better ventilation, and nicer retention systems, and fit a little nicer, but all helmets have to meet regulations for safety.

    Quote Originally Posted by OHThiker
    I'm guessing the best way to figure out the whole 21 speed gear stuff is to just screw with it right (bike store guy explained it but it was a little over my head)?.
    Gears in a nutshell: low numbers=easier pedaling for going uphill. high numbers = harder pedaling for going fast. Although the bike may have 24 speeds (doubt the bike comes with a seven speed rear cassette or freewheel, almost certain it is an 8 speed cassette), you will never actually use all 24 speeds, nor should you. Avoid poor gear combinations--big chainring to big cog (3 in front-1in back), or small chainring to small cog (1 in front - 8 in back). Many of the gear combinations will repeat the same ratio.

    Rule of thumb: use the small chainring (1 on the left hand gears on the handlebar) with cogs 1-4 on the rear (right hand shifter), use the middle chainring (2 on left) with cogs 2-7 on right, and large chainring (3 on left) with cogs 6-8 on right. Except when climbing really steep stuff or going really, really fast, you will probably spend most of your time in the middle chainring.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the great advice guys. I really cant wait to get the new bike home! I'm sure the extra $$$ and the wait will be worth it. For some reason seeing the gear explanation in writing rather than having someone tell me how they work really seems easier. Maybe I'll see some of you on the Syllamo and I'm sure I'll be asking some more Q's as they arise. Thanks again.

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