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Old 09-15-2005, 04:47 PM   #1
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I LOVE my new bike!!! If you remember, I hadn't actually seen it or tried it out in person -- the shop had to special-order it. So I still had an image of my husband's old Schwinn with the high performance tires on it that made me wobble and feel like I'd break them.

Not this puppy! Big, thick tires. Shock-absorbing seat. Gel-padded saddle. Oh-my-god 21 gears!!! (Who in the WORLD uses 21 gears??)

I felt so silly in my brand-new bike helmet, looking at the bike, knowing I was gonna have to swing my fat old leg up over behind. But it was much easier than I expected. Once on the bike, I took a moment to settle myself.

Then I was off!

What a difference!!! Like night and day. When I tried that old Schwinn a few months ago, I couldn't make it up the gentle hill on our block. I had to stop haflway up, feeling like my heart would burst. But with this baby in low gear I could do it! Slowly, still struggling a bit. But I didn't have to stop. And I sailed around the rest of the block without a problem at all.

So I decided to venture out of my one-block circle and into the neighborhood at large. I vaguely remembered my bike hand signals from my far-distant youth (they DID have bikes in the Jurassic Period, didn't they?), and headed out of my comfort zone.

Wow...

I rode down to the elementary school about five blocks away, and was feeling good. This was as far as I'd walked in the five years we've lived here. I figured now was as good a time as any to explore the road beside it. It curved around, suburban houses and townhouses dotting along the street, cul-de-sacs and other streets branching off it. I FLEW down one long street (liberally applying the hand brakes the whole way). It seemed like everywhere I looked was another little hidden street and mini-neighborhood that I had had NO idea was even there! Amazing!

Then I realized that I needed to head back. I was all over sweat, and my heart was pounding strongly, but not overly so. But of course, since I did so much flying to get there... I had to peddle MUCH harder to return. I ended up checking out almost every one of those 21 gears.

I never did find the gear that would turn the motor on and drive me home effortlessly. *laughs* But even though I had to stop a couple times on the way home -- once for a good five minutes until my heart was going at a normal rate -- I made it home safe and sound, and completely, utterly exhilerated.

I biked for 45 minutes. I had NO idea I would be out so long. I had expected maybe 20 minutes tops. But it was so much fun, even with my big ol' belly in the way at times. I got home, drank down a glass of water, then sat for a few minutes watching the news while I drank half of another. When I started feeling fairly normal again, I stretched my legs and arms out, then jumped in the shower. Boy, did THAT feel good!

And today, I'm barely saddle sore. That fancy gel-saddle is a lot easier on the bottom than those old seats I used to use.

Anyway, on to specifics. It's a Trek "comfort" bike -- the Navigator 50 http://www.trekbikes.com/bikes/2004/...avigator50.jsp

The tires are nice and thick and supportive. It's a "sit up" bike rather than a "lean forward and race" bike. It's a woman's bike, so the frame was actually small enough for me (we had to get the 14.5 size. I'm 5'3")

Things I didn't think about: It didn't come with a kickstand, but my husband was thoughtful enough to buy one for me before bringing it home. Because he brought it home rather than me being there, the shop didn't get a chance to adjust the seat specifically for me. I need to make the seat a bit higher (easily done on this baby) so my legs can extend almost fully. By MD law, I need a bell on it, and a light if I'm going to be out after dark. I'd like some sort of carrying thing -- I wore a backpack-style purse for my wallet and keys, but it would be nice to have a basket or something. And I'm definitely wanting a water bottle carrier. I may also look into a rear-view mirror and an odometer so I know how far I've gone. But those aren't as important.

I am SO glad I didn't wait until I got down to 250 pounds, which is what I had originally considered. I want to be able to use it now, with my family, and enjoy the lovely fall weather.
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Old 09-15-2005, 05:43 PM   #2
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I'm so pleased you love your bike, Synger! Very smart it is too, BTW. I remember when I first got mine. I went from having no gears to having 14. I never thought I'd use all of them, and now I wish I had 21, or even more!

There's no way I would ever be without a bike. I don't have a car, so it's my primary method of transport. I just love it. Mine is a hybrid that I brought with me from England and is complete with an old-fashioned wicker basket on the front. I also have a trailer (actually, it's a child-carrier) that I got on mega-sale which is invaluable for shopping trips.

The bike's getting a bit long in the tooth now, and when it conks out I'll be replacing it with one that has thicker tyres. Mine aren't as thin as those on racing bikes, but still, on the roads here (especially in winter), wider ones would be a lot more practical. Also, it's difficult to get parts (especially tyres) because of its weird size. I'll be sad to see it go though. It's been a loyal friend.

Thanks for sharing your first trip out. Once again, congratulations on your new bike. May you have many happy miles of safe cycling.
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Old 09-15-2005, 06:16 PM   #3
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SYNGER!!!!

Welcome to the bike club! Oh I am so proud of you chica! Isn't it wonderful? It's like you're ten again. I recommend the rear rack and saddle bags (because I like my handbars to be basket free). I have a hybrid too (the sit up and not lean over feature rocks!).

I'm thinking about getting a trailer for the dogs but I'm not sure if they'd like it.

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Old 09-15-2005, 09:36 PM   #4
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Synger, it was a real pleasure reading your post. I too rediscovered the fun of Biking after a 6 years break.

The fact that i now have a good quality bike helped a lot. I ride it to work every day....
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Old 09-15-2005, 10:53 PM   #5
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Synger!!!!!

Thanks so much for your post on the new bike. You sound so delighted and carefree I am so excited for you. You are an inspiration!!! Iam promising myself a bike in the spring as a reward for staying on track this winter. I was really glad to that you gave some information on the make and model. Thanks again!!! And keep those posts coming. If your game I would love to here more about your further adventures. DCM
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Old 09-16-2005, 02:57 AM   #6
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I loved reading your post! I'm so glad you were able to do this!!! Keep on bikin'!
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Old 09-16-2005, 03:47 AM   #7
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Isn't biking fabulous!?! And time goes so fast when you're driving around on one, havin' fun and getting some fabulous exercise too!
I bought myself a new bike for my birthday; the only problem I have with it is that I don't get to ride it enough! Makes me wish we lived in town so I could ride my bike to the library and other quick jaunts.
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Old 09-16-2005, 09:36 AM   #8
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Hi Synger! I absolutely loved your post on your new bike,it sounds like you had so much fun! And you went out for 45 minutes - WTG!!

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Old 09-16-2005, 10:13 AM   #9
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Synger, I loved the bike story! Sounds like you had a great time!
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Old 09-16-2005, 12:27 PM   #10
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What a great bike story.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 09-16-2005, 03:19 PM   #11
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Ah the bike. I just love it too SYnger. Don't you feel like you are a child again -- so free. I seriously considered getting some handlebar tssles, but declined (I do have a bell, though). Congratulations on your new friend. Have you named it?? Mine is "Rocinante", Don Quixote's horse.
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Old 09-16-2005, 05:36 PM   #12
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Thanks for the report, great reading! We have a big park a couple of blocks from us. Some weekends, we sit on the grass and watch all the bikers (and rollerbladers, etc.) go by. I get such an itch to be on a bike too, but stop myself with the same thought you had, I'll wait until I'm thinner. I said that about the gym, luckily I joined anyway and I love that.

You're an inspiration to me. I'm glad your enjoying your new bike. (Love the model too, and gel seats, that's for me, baby!)
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Old 09-17-2005, 12:36 PM   #13
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Totally agree, biking is fabulous! And your post was a joy to read, Synger!

What I like about biking is that you don't have to wait until you're already skinny to really get some benefit out of it without seriously doing yourself an injury - it's like swimming in that your weight is supported, and you don't put the same stresses on your ankles and knees that you do if you try jogging or running when you've got a lot of weight to lose. And man, you burn so many calories while having tons of fun at the same time!

I used to do mountain bike races and go on biking holidays, but I put my bike aside for a few years, and I've only recently dusted it off and started riding again regularly. I bought my mountain bike in '93 and it's still going strong (though I aim to buy myself a shiny new one in October as a reward for losing 50lbs). Where I live is pretty flat so you see top-notch lycra-clad types on 3000+ bikes riding alongside Miss Marple types on old sit-up-and-beg bikes with wicker baskets on the front - it's truly a universal sport and everyone gets something out of it!

Thanks for your post - it put a huge grin on my face!

All the best, Janey
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Old 09-17-2005, 03:19 PM   #14
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I agree Synger, awesome post! You sound so happy and carefree; it makes me wish even more that some hooligan didn't just steal my own bike a few weeks ago! Alright, you've convinced me, I'm just gonna have to pony up the dough and get myself another one. I don't want to miss out on any more of the fun! Thanks for sharing Synger, great post!!

Beverly
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Old 09-17-2005, 04:32 PM   #15
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Today was our first "family ride" with me on my new bike. As I reported before, I'd gotten a little more comfortable riding outside of my little block and into my neighborhood at large. Didn't have to deal with much traffic, and no stop lights.

But today... today Hunter wanted to ride to the bike shop near the Amish Market.... That's completely outside of our neighborhood, down busy streets where cars are wizzing by at 40 miles an hour (or faster), where you have to use the buttons at the corner stoplights to get a pedestrian signal.

I psyched myself up, all the while I was getting ready. "I can do this. We'll go slow. We can take breaks." Put on my socks and shoes. "I can do this. It'll be fun...." Trying to convince myself while getting out my brand new bike lock and under-seat pack for wallet and keys. "I can do this. I've seen sidewalks the whole way we'll be going. It'll be safe."

We loaded Gem onto the seat behind Hunter, and got ourselves ready.

And we were off. Hunter led, because he'd biked it before with just him and Gem. Sidewalks. Good. We were okay on sidewalks. But some of them were narrow, and rutted, and not like the wide, smooth pavement I was used to. I just hung on and kept going. And by some miracle, survived.

Then we ran out of pavement. He was all for riding over the grass, but I wasn't comfortable with that yet (though my bike could do it, I'm sure, with those big thick tires), so I walked it until we found sidewalk again.

We turned onto a long, busy road, and coasted down a long sloping bit. Halfway up the other side, I had to stop and catch my breath. Boy, those hills are a killer! Even when it's just a slope, it really adds up. And if you lose your momentum... you're a goner.

The road narrowed ahead into a bridge, and the sidewalk narrowed as well. Cars whizzed past on one side, and a chain link fence on the other, and I was SURE I'd fall into the road. I just kept saying "I can do this, just a little bit farther. I can do this, just keep it steady. I can do this, remember to breathe..." and we crossed the bridge. This time when I stopped to rest it was to get the trembling under control. Needless to say, I voiced my opinion to my dear husband that we would NOT be returning home via this route. He smiled and agreed.

Finally we made it to the shopping center. We were both ready to stop by this time. We chained up our bikes and headed into the bike store. They had a water cooler!!! One of the things we had hoped to purchase were water bottle holders, and bottles, so we got those right off, and filled them up. MAN, did that taste good! We got the bells we needed (required by MD law), and looked at a rear rack system so I can carry things on my bike. I'm glad we went to the shop and had a salesman help us out -- my bike is so short and the tubes are so close (because it's a "woman's" frame), that the normal "pull the bottle out from the top" holder wouldn't work well. We would have had no clue.

Then we went to the market and had a nice lunch and got some meat from the butcher there to take home. We were ready to head home.

The trip home seemed much quicker. We saw a couple of other bikers out, one of whom grinned and waved and said "Great day for biking!" as he passed us. It was like we were in some new secret brotherhood or club that we'd only seen from the outside before. And now that we were out riding, in our helmets, on a lovely fall day, we were members.

We went a different way, up to another major street that crossed another bridge. But this bridge's sidewalks were nice and wide and I didn't feel out of control at all.

By the time we got home, we were more than ready to stop. I hadn't worn a watch, but I'd noted the time we left the Amish Market, and the time we got back inside the house. The trip home took about 45 minutes. So I was riding for twice the time I had the first time! No wonder my body was a little shakey.

We took a few minutes to cool down, then slipped into our swim suits and had a welcome and very refreshing dip in the pool. And now we're contemplating the rest of the afternoon.

Things I learned this trip:

When coasting down hill, don't slow down too much. You'll need the momentum to go up the hill that's inevitably coming up.

When you feel like you're going to die halfway up that hill, stop if you have to. Somehow it's easier to start on a hill when you're rested than to keep going when you feel like your legs are shaking.

Don't be afraid to use sidewalks if the traffic is crazy or you're uncomfortable in the street. (This was a big one for me -- I was taught to stay off the sidewalks as a child on a bike, but my home town had bike paths on most major roads so you didn't need the sidewalks.)

I raised the seat a little bit, and it really helped. I read on a bike site that most Americans keep their seats too low (a hold-over from when they were kids, perhaps), and that it makes you work harder. It was a little more awkward for me to start and stop with a higher seat... my bike is a small frame, and my belly takes up a LOT of room, so standing straddling the frame in front of the seat while waiting to start isn't as easy as it could be. But I'm learning to compensate.

Water is a VERY good thing. By new water bottle was almost completely empty by the time we got home. I now understand why people who bike sometimes use those Camelback water backpacks.

This is a GREAT family exercise and fun thing. I can't wait to ride again!
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