Or What I Wish I'd Known Before I Became an Overweight Middle-Aged Cyclist
I had so much fun riding my bicycle this week...Sunday and Monday.
Tuesday was another matter.
Tuesday I could hardly move, and I had...err...other problems as well.
So for all of my friends who are considering buying a bike, and for everyone else who reads this who is considering buying a bike, I have some hard-won advice for you. If you're still young (the younger the better) then you can laugh and be glad you're starting earlier. If you're not overweight, you can rejoice again and have even more motivation to stay healthy. If you're like me--overweight and over 50, then you need to read this!
1. Buy a fat-friendly bike.
This would be what is now called a "comfort bike"--strong, comfortable positioning, and possibly super-sized for your body. Do not buy this bike at a department store, but at a bike shop where the employees seem knowledgeable about your bike riding experience, and do not want to just sell you a bike. You need a sturdy bike, sturdy enough to support your weight. As a newbie, you probably don't know how sturdy that is, so you need expert help. You want to invest your money in a bike that will hold up well and be safe.
Obviously, you'll want your bike shop to adjust the bike to fit your body measurements as well. And add on an odometer or other accessories, unless you're handy (I'm not).
2. Test ride your bike.
Don't buy a bike somewhere you can't test ride it and make sure you like how it rides. Test ride several bikes and compare them. I thought I wanted a cruiser with no gears until I rode one; my bike has eight gears, which is perfect for me. I found out I liked really big wheels, too. Big thin wheels, not balloon tires. Test ride it on a day where the weather conditions approximate the weather you'll be riding in, too.
3. Make sure that the seat works for you.
This isn't as simple as being comfortable on the seat in the store or during your test ride. If you are sore after a few minutes of riding on the seat, consider a different seat (XL, extra-wide, gel seat, or dual-pad seat) or at least a gel cover for your seat. Don't just ignore it because you're just "a little sore" or you can take it.
I will tell you why here. If you are a fat baby boomer and you ride on a typical seat, you may get very, very sore. Like days later. Too sore to sit down. Picture your private parts being mashed around really, really, really hard for the duration of your bike ride
4. Check bike before each ride.
Be on top of bike maintenance and perform regular checks for warping, cracks, and other forms of stress damage. If you don't know how to do this, your bike tech person at the bike shop will. Visually inspect the bike each time before you ride it. Listen to your bike, too. It may make unusual light groaning-type or moaning-type sounds (that's what my tandem did). If you notice anything unusual, including the sounds, don't ride it until you have it professionally checked out.
5. Go very, very slowly. Think of what this means to you. Then go a much, much slower pace than that.
I thought that a 30 minute ride two days in a row was slow. Wrong. After I recover, in a few days here (no I'm not giving up...I had too much fun) I'm going two minutes---up and down my driveway. Then three. Then four. Like everything else when you're over fifty, it's way slower than I thought it would be.
That said...be safe...have fun...and ride!
~Written with frequent breaks due to Fat Baby Boomer Bike Riding Syndrome
~Photo of my bike by Electra Amsterdam Townie and Sign by Signapalooza