Well, after owning a turd of a Wal-Mart Schwinn for the last 3 years (bought on a whim just to fart around while the kids learn to bike), I decided to hit a local trail with the wife. She's 5'6" 120lbs and teaches aerobics, while I'm 6'2" and 280lbs, and plays World of Warcraft.
We found out that preparation is the key to a good ride, as we were quite lacking in it. The trail we went on is at German Ridge in southern Indiana. It's basically a loop of hills and shattered dreams, and considering that all but 2 of the signs were missing we did "ok". By ok I mean "not dead". Going out with a tiny-ass water bottle for us to share, we hit the blue diamond path, and decided we would stay on it so we wouldn't get lost (we're at least from the area, so we knew it had plenty of spurs, etc). It's a joint hiking/biking/horse trail, and the horses had it pretty torn up in muddy places. Trying to be a showoff and ride through it, I sank to my axle and barrel rolled sideways through the special "horse mud", much to my wife's pleasure. Sexy was not an attribute I maintained from then on.
3.5 hours later, we finally hit the paved street that we were parked off of, just 5 miles off course. We had somehow spiraled back past were we were started, but once on there she rode ahead to get the Explorer to come get me. Come to find out the blue diamond trail was the extreme perimeter of the system at 24.5 miles of hills. Somehow it was mostly uphill, much to my chagrin. In the time of this little ride, I had yanked my chain right out of the derailleur, slightly bent a rim, and pinch-flatted its tire. Most of these were fixed by a combination of bruised fingertips and what I've found is called a "#4 Field Hammer" (aka big rock). Lots of praying was done, mostly by me that a free bottled water stand would burst upon the trail in front of me. The little 30 oz bottle lasted us only about a 1/3 of the way. I remember at some point losing all sense of chivalry and downing the last swallow before my wife asked for it. It was not a proud moment. I felt very feral at that point, looking to drink out of the next creek I could find. Squirty poops be damned!
So, we get home and within a few days I get everything repaired, I then just go ride along a local walking/biking trail that's paved, with grass next to it. That grass was the straw that broke the camel's back I guess, as my rear derailleur completely snapped off of the bracket. This completely sucked, as I was starting to commute to work, but more on that later.
After a trip to the bike shop I have a much more competent Trek 4300 Disc that's properly sized to me and whatnot. When I stand them next to each other, I wonder if my Schwinn was engineered for a 14 year old girl.
Ok, so now that I have that out, I'm doing my daily commute to work on this 4300, and it's great so far. It's only a 15 minute ride 1 way, and I think it'll work out to like 15 miles total for the 4 trips (home for lunch, yay), as per my little $9 Bell trip computer thingy. The problem I have is the roads I take have a lot of expansion issues. This city has a old time exposed aggregate concrete from the 1920's as the base, with pavement above, so naturally there's expansion issues to the tune of about 1" of rise, and these hit about every 40' and hit my behind pretty hard.
I've been looking at the Thudbusters, but they only go up to 250, so I was curious if there was something similar that could up that a bit to 280, or is that 250 just a "recommended" type thing where it's not going to be a big issue? I'm hoping the 30 lbs will come off fairly quickly, as along with the biking I get free gym membership where my wife teaches, which is a block from home as well. Is it something where it would just make more sense to wait the weight off, or go ahead and get it knowing I'm "out of spec"?
1 big benefit I've found with a bike commute that I've yet to see mentioned: you definitely don't feel a crave for an impulse purchase at the local CrapDonalds or wherever. For me it would be a 20 minute round trip in the wrong direction to go snag lunch away from home, so it's a nice way to force a diet.
Lastly, I plan to train up and retry that German Ridge path, with a camel pack for both of us. Despite the despair I had during that trip, I was very happy with myself that I completed it under the circumstances. My wife regularly runs 6 miles, and she said it kicked her butt as well, so she was impressed that I made it.
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