Quantcast

Extreme newbie....

zibbler

Monkey
Hey all,

Here's the lowdown. I'm a 38 year old female in really bad shape. I no longer have a car so I decided to get a bike so as not to be couped up in the house. I haven't ridden since I was about 16 or 17 :(

Anyway, I got a bike which most of you would think is a piece of crap (Mongoose dh 2.5 mountain bike). I got it because it was affordable ($250.00) and I just needed something I could get in shape with and practice a bit. I've always been interested in mountain biking (from a spectators point of view) but really know nothing about it.

I would like to get into doing some mountain biking. We have a few beginners courses here (south Florida), that I would like to start on, but right now I know I'm not ready for it. I'm just working on getting into shape and getting some endurance. Any advice for starting out would be appreciatted. I have a couple of questions for those in the know, or those who've been where I am at.

1) About how long will it take to get in good enough shape to attempt the beginners courses? I currently ride a couple of miles a day on the street. I still get a wicked lactic acid burn in my thighs even though I stretch out and start off slow. I only got my bike about a week ago.

2) Any recommendations on a good, durable, easy to maintain bike that won't cost a fortune? ($300.00 - $500.00) I know the bike I have now won't cut it. Also, what size frame should I get? The one I have now is a 26" frame which I now realize is way too big for me. I'm 5'6", 135 lbs. Seeing as there's no mountains in florida :( , I would probably need a good all purpose, cross country bike I'm guessing.

3) What kind of safety gear should I get? (I know the helmet is obvious). Do I need elbow and knee pads? Gloves? Shin gaurds?

4) If anyone is in the south Florida area and knows of any good clinics or classes I could take, please let me know.

Sorry so long winded. I'm gettin' psyched!
 

Rapture

Chimp
Jun 18, 2002
11
0
Vancouver
1) I'd suggest slowly working up from simple trails (that don't involve much uphill, going around the block - going up a small but tiresome hill in the neighborhood). Again its all about training, you could try jogging or purchasing an indoor bike - as an alternate trainer. There's no trick of the trade (damn! :cool: so ur just gonna have to work with it.

The leg problem might be related to the height of your saddle, try tinkering with it. But one thing that might not be apparent to "extreme newbies" are the importance of good gear managing. As long as you can keep good cadence without wearing your legs too much, it should be easy as pie. I can personally ride a good 8 hr XC ride, and i don't do that much physical training (and i'm only 15). You should see me run, i'm panting after a couple blocks.

2) A good bike would be giants/cannondales/konas, etc.
I'd personally buy a kona, they make good bikes. You could look at their sites (konaworld.com), try a hardtail with maybe 3 inches travel. Lavadome/Blast/Nunu/Cindercone. Prices vary.

If you plan to do mainly easy trail riding, you could always get a rigid bike and save a couple hundred. But then again, as time/skill progresses, the more urge there is to try something more difficult - and a rigid bike will DEFINETLY hold you back.

ALSO, you say that you have a 26" frame? That is WAY to big. It might cause problems with such a large distance from the saddle and the handlebars. I'm about your height and i have a 17" frame.. but then again, i have a downhill/freeride bike (most dh bikes are relatively "smaller"). Try a 19", or ask your bike mechanics/dealers.


3) Safety gear is optional. Save money and just keep with your helmet. Some like to get gloves to keep warm and they are good confort after holding your grips for many hours. Don't worry about shin guards/arm armor/full face helmets, as long as you stick to light XC, it should be all fine. Trust me, you don't want to be going around a flat trail with all this gear on - you'll look like a dork ;)


4) As i've never biked in Florida b4, i'd not know. I really recommend getting to know your local bike mechanics, they can really help you get started. Meeting ppl is the key to good knowledge + good deals too :)

Also, if you have any friends that enjoy biking + are in the same endurance category, ride with them. U'd be surprised how much more u'd push urself when someone ahead says "Can't you go any faster??".


Hope this helps

Have fun & good riding!
 

htrdoug

Chimp
Nov 25, 2001
66
0
So.Indiana
couple of suggestions for your first few trail rides,find a section of trail that's flat,even if it's only a few hundred yards long,ride it back and forth to get the feel of dirt,don't be concered with "riding the whole loop"just find a section you can do and enjoy it-repeatedly.If you have to go up a hill just push,don't wear yourself out just because you think it's uncool to push.Learn to stand up some while you ride,this is best done on a slight upgrade while pedalling in a faster(harder to push the pedals)gear.then stand up into a low crouch over your seat when you go over roots and rocks,letting the bike "hobby horse" underneath you.Please don't use the toe clip things if you have them on your pedals remove them,they will only make you crash,BMX style flat pedal are best for beginners.You should probably take your bike to a real bike shop and have them tune it up,let them show you how to set the tire pressure and adjust the brakes and lube the chain.have them measure your frame size(26" probably refers to wheel size on department store bikes)as far as recommendations Giants or Raleighs seem to offer good values on the bikes around that price range,just make sure you get it from a real bike shop that has people you like working there.Good luck,and have only fun!:D
 

zibbler

Monkey
Originally posted by Rapture


The leg problem might be related to the height of your saddle, try tinkering with it. But one thing that might not be apparent to "extreme newbies" are the importance of good gear managing. As long as you can keep good cadence without wearing your legs too much, it should be easy as pie.


If you plan to do mainly easy trail riding, you could always get a rigid bike and save a couple hundred. But then again, as time/skill progresses, the more urge there is to try something more difficult - and a rigid bike will DEFINETLY hold you back.


ALSO, you say that you have a 26" frame? That is WAY to big. It might cause problems with such a large distance from the saddle and the handlebars. I'm about your height and i have a 17" frame.. but then again, i have a downhill/freeride bike (most dh bikes are relatively "smaller"). Try a 19", or ask your bike mechanics/dealers.


3) Save money and just keep with your helmet. Some like to get gloves to keep warm and they are good confort after holding your grips for many hours. Don't worry about shin guards/arm armor/full face helmets, as long as you stick to light XC, it should be all fine. Trust me, you don't want to be going around a flat trail with all this gear on - you'll look like a dork ;)


Hope this helps

Have fun & good riding! [/B]
Actually, I went to the LBS last night and tried out an aluminum hardtail that was much lighter than my FS bike and my legs didn't feel too fatigued. I think my bike's just too heavy for me.

I eventually want to get into some intermediate trails, so I'm wondering if I should go with a hard tail or FS. A hard tail is definitely a lot lighter, but a lot bumpier too.

See what a newbie I am? I goofed. The tires are 26", the frame is 18" which is still too big for me. I tried out a 16" which was much more comfy. Now I just have to find a decent one in my price range.

Yeah, I was thinking I might look like a dork if I had all that gear on, but then again at my age I fear getting busted up worse than I fear being laughed at.


Thanks for all the tips.
 

Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
38,745
7,979
In the sub $500 price range, I'd stick with a hardtail bike, as it would have higher quality components and would be lighter, as you noticed. :D Good luck, and keep on riding.
 
Originally posted by Rapture


3) Safety gear is optional. Save money and just keep with your helmet. Some like to get gloves to keep warm and they are good confort after holding your grips for many hours. Don't worry about shin guards/arm armor/full face helmets, as long as you stick to light XC, it should be all fine. Trust me, you don't want to be going around a flat trail with all this gear on - you'll look like a dork ;)

I look like a dork when I ride with my knee/shin pads. And on the days I DON'T wear them, I fall! I'd rather look like a dork and have all my skin!
 

FlipSide

Turbo Monkey
Sep 24, 2001
1,400
843
Go with a 16" hardtail. Don't take anything bigger than a 16". My GF is 5'6" too and she has a 18" that is too big for her...we kind of regret a bit our purchase (but the price was so good!)

Also, in your price range you might want to take a look at last year bikes. You could find a bike with better specs but at the same price as a 2002 bike.
 
Jun 17, 2002
2
0
Vermont
Is is so great to see people getting into biking.Everyone here has given you some good advice for getting started and the Hartail is a great one.Just switched my wife to a new hardtail this year(a newbie also) and a big differance.
I let her try out bike until she found one that she felt comforatable on and also fit her right(the old one didn't).Adjusted the seat height and walla what a differance in her confidance and riding.
Just hang in there and think of what the outcome will be like.Like setting that as your goal to make yourself better:thumbs:
 

Heidi

Der hund ist laut und braun
Aug 22, 2001
10,184
797
Bend, Oregon
Originally posted by MtnBikerChk


Nope, it was 100% directed at me.

but now that you mention it.....
Hey, I had NO European crashes! I am SOOOOO on a roll! I saw some pretty gnarly ones though.
 

-BB-

I broke all the rules, but somehow still became mo
Sep 6, 2001
4,254
28
Livin it up in the O.C.
Originally posted by zibbler


1) About how long will it take to get in good enough shape to attempt the beginners courses? I currently ride a couple of miles a day on the street. I still get a wicked lactic acid burn in my thighs even though I stretch out and start off slow. I only got my bike about a week ago.
Depends... I'd say about 2-3 months though. You want to have your legs moving faster w/ less resistance (in general)


2) Any recommendations on a good, durable, easy to maintain bike that won't cost a fortune? ($300.00 - $500.00) I know the bike I have now won't cut it. Also, what size frame should I get? The one I have now is a 26" frame which I now realize is way too big for me. I'm 5'6", 135 lbs. Seeing as there's no mountains in florida :( , I would probably need a good all purpose, cross country bike I'm guessing.
26? That doesn't sound right... 16in? maybe?
26in is the wheel size. They don't make 26in frames. unless it is measured from ground to TT, which is a weird measurement. Also, @ 5'6" 135lbs you can't be in THAT bad of shape? I was thinking you were like 2-bills from your intro. Try a 15in.
As for brands, try Gary-fisher, Treck, or GIANT. all good value low end bike makers.

3) What kind of safety gear should I get? (I know the helmet is obvious). Do I need elbow and knee pads? Gloves? Shin gaurds?
GLOVES, GLOVES, GLOVES!!! (and a helmet)

Now get outthere and RIDE!! ;)
 

-BB-

I broke all the rules, but somehow still became mo
Sep 6, 2001
4,254
28
Livin it up in the O.C.
Originally posted by zibbler


Actually, I went to the LBS last night and tried out an aluminum hardtail that was much lighter than my FS bike and my legs didn't feel too fatigued. I think my bike's just too heavy for me.

I eventually want to get into some intermediate trails, so I'm wondering if I should go with a hard tail or FS. A hard tail is definitely a lot lighter, but a lot bumpier too.

See what a newbie I am? I goofed. The tires are 26", the frame is 18" which is still too big for me. I tried out a 16" which was much more comfy. Now I just have to find a decent one in my price range.

Yeah, I was thinking I might look like a dork if I had all that gear on, but then again at my age I fear getting busted up worse than I fear being laughed at.


Thanks for all the tips.
I'd go for a Hardtail with a suspension seat post.
It will be easier to climb (no bouncing) and also take the edge off of little bumps. Plus, it is a better deal ($$$) and lighter over-all.

Again, for what oyu are riding, all you will need is a helmet adn gloves. there is nothing worse than falling and cutting up your hands and then having to ride out w/ blood on your handlebars.