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20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 3 Apr 2019, 5:08pm
by Paddywan
Hi guys,

After visiting my GP's over the passed few weeks I've quit smoking, been eating healthily, and on Monday began walking in order to start burning calories, however after walking just 3 miles in an hour, 10 minutes into my walk i felt pain in my right ankle, which continued for the remainder of the walk and throughout the day progressed into sharp heel pain & a sleepless night. Plantar fasciitis is apparently a recurring condition and I have been advised to cease walking and to look into swimming & cycling.

I am very much a beginner, and have no clue where I would even start. Last time I cycled was in my early teens, so I figured perhaps you guys might have some advice for me, particularly any of you who have previously been at a similar weight and experienced related issues when it comes to cycling. Apart from general advice to a person of my stature, I would like to know how I even go about choosing a bike to begin with. There are so many different variations, different "systems" and different styles, that it is all really rather confusing to know what suites my needs the best, and would be capable of coping with my weight.

Similarly, I suppose I should say that I live in a residential area, however we do have wide roads which circle the town, have plenty of cycle lanes & low traffic at non-rush hour times. Furthermore I have access to hills/inclines within 2-3 miles, however I have no knowledge of "off-road" tracks and am not even sure if I would be capable of these, or if it would be conducive to weight loss or not. Ideally I would be looking to buy second hand, so would prefer suggestions for a type/style? of bike rather than a specific make/model, however "recommended" / good quality manufacturer names would also be greatly appreciated. Once bought, I intend to stick with this bike for a significant amount of miles, enough to burn through at least 1/4 of my body weight, to get into a position where I can feel "normal" ish again and get my career back on-track, so how would I go about coming to a conclusion that a specific bike is in "good condition" and can cope with the stress/mileage I'm about to put on it? I really cannot afford to make more than one purchase. What should I look for when I go to inspect a second hand bike? Are there any indicators of wear&tear that should be checked before making a purchase?

I suppose there are many other questions that I should be asking, however, forgive my ignorance as I know not what else should be asked, or what I might need to know. I have done some research on this before, but was never able to come to any conclusion and commit to purchasing & engaging in cycling, so almost everything here is going to be entirely new for me.

Thank you for any and all responses.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 3 Apr 2019, 10:25pm
by thelawnet
This is a bit of a standard question.

Typical past thread viewtopic.php?t=112265

Standard recommendations are:

Strong wheels designed for touring or tandems. Likely 36 spokes certainly not less than 32

Easy gears which you'll find on mountain bikes and bikes designed for loads (you won't get up a hill if you are carrying twice as much weight as someone else, unless you have a lower gear

A steel touring bike with a small chainring below 30t would be a good starting point. If the wheels aren't 36 spoke, there's nothing to stop you riding on them and replacing them if/when you break them.

It's worth buying a chain checking tool on eBay (about £2) and checking the chain. If it's worn then you could well be looking at a new chain, cassette and chainring.

Also if you test ride then check the smaller cogs, numbers one to three, these tend to wear quickest , so if you get jumping then it's a sign things are possibly worn out.

Obviously if you can't test ride, then even putting the bike upside down and going through the gears and checking they change without hesitation or noise is a good sign that the bike has been maintained (if they do make noise, then this could possibly be fixed easily, but it's not a good sign if they don't iyswim)

Again look at brakes, if they are new pads and not worn unevenly that's a good sign. If there are rim brakes, a worn rim is a bad sign meaning a new wheel in the nearish future. Brakes that are nicely adjusted so that they stop by squeezing the lever with minimal effort and not too much lever movement are a good sign (try some new bikes in the shop for comparison)

You can also look for play in the hubs and in the bottom bracket by wiggling them side to side. And then with the bike upside down spin the wheels to check for true - if they are round, again that's good, if they drag on the brakes that's absolutely not. They should spin for a while then stop and spin back the other way.

Rusty or frayed cable, cable ends, or cable housings are bad signs, could be fixed up but if you don't diy it could be expensive

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 3 Apr 2019, 10:33pm
by rotavator
To avoid plantar fascititis when cycling I recommend that you buy some cycling shoes (which have stiff soles).

If you don't know much about bikes it would be safest to buy new, may be from Decathlon because they have some good value bikes. If you can only afford to buy used, you could find out if there is a biking recycling scheme near you that sells refurbished and properly checked bikes at very reasonable prices.

If you are unsure what type of bike to go for, have a go on some different ones and see which you like best. If that is not feasible, I would suggest getting a hybrid. If you need mudguards or a rack, check for eyelets and clearance. If you live somewhwere hilly, make sure that it has some low gears, as a rough guide it should have a chainring (at the front) bigger than the largest sprocket (at the back).

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 3 Apr 2019, 10:49pm
by Brucey
I would suggest that you get a (used if on a budget) MTB, ideally steel framed, and expect to have to replace various bits on it as they manifest wear or turn out not to suit you after all. Possible modifications to a MTB include

a) mudguards
b) more road-biased tyres
c) contact points (saddle, handlebars, pedals) to suit.

If you do enough miles most parts of any bike end up being 'consumed', but they are not that expensive to buy, so the cost per mile is not that great. Provided you start with a bike of half-reasonable quality, it ought to work for you. A fairly good way of judging quality is to see if the rear wheel has a cassette hub or a screw-on freewheel. Most bikes with cassette hubs are worth having, but bikes with a screw-on freewheel are liable to be of poorer quality and/or be likely to break.

Something like a Carrera subway would be cheap to buy and (except for the subway 1 model) be of adequate quality. If you get a machine like this with fatter tyres it will more easily allow you to travel on bridlepaths etc.

I would't invest a lot in a new bike at this stage; you won't know what kind of bike will really suit you or indeed what kind of cycling appeals most to you. I'd therefore suggest treating the first bike you buy as an experiment; if you don't like it you can always sell it on and get something different.


Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 6:40am
by thirdcrank
Good luck with this.

I think it's mistaken to assume that cycling = weight loss although it should mean a valuable increase in fitness. I think that the general experience is that cycling makes you feel hungry so it can increase the grub intake. In general terms, I believe the only way to lose weight in a healthy way is to eat less. However, there are few experiences in life that are more unpleasant than what is variously known as bonk/ hunger knock and probably more besides. If you had come on here asking for advice about something like a long charity ride, a lot of the replies would have emphasised making sure you ate enough.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 8:12am
by peetee
Welcome. First I would like to applaude you for your positive attitude. I don't doubt that you will achieve your goal. It can be done - I saw a colleague do the same, he lost the weight very quickly and loved every minute of it.
Plantar fasciitis is something I am familiar with having drastically reduced my cycling milage and replaced it with many hours of standing. I am controlling it with regular stretches to my calf's and hamstrings.
As for choice of bike, if you can tell us roughly where you are perhaps this forum has someone local who can assist if you see something you like?

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 8:26am
by rjb
Take inspiration from the Pizzaman thread.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 8:35am
by Vorpal

See if you can find a local Bike Hub/Cycle Hub or community interest organisation. They will have used bikes for sale, social rides, and various other things to help folks get back on bikes.

You may also find it useful to take some Bikeability lessons, which help improve bike handling and the practical aspects of cycling in traffic.

Good luck!

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 8:58am
by francovendee
I'd look for a used steel MTB in your size. It shouldn't cost a fortune but will serve you until you've achieved some weight loss. You can then sell it on and buy a better bike.
When I got back into cycling after a gap of over 30 years I found it tough. What made the difference for me was buying a cycle computer. I could then see my fitness improve. Week by week I could cycle further and feel less tired.
Good you're trying to do something about the weight, I hope you manage it.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 9:34am
by atlas_shrugged
As Brucey suggests I would go for a used bike. Probably a Hybrid (good for road and paths). I also like mudguards.

Make sure you have decent puncture resistant tyres e.g. Schwalbe Marathon and check the tyre pressure (using a pump with tyre pressure guage) every two weeks or so.

If you want to keep your bike then I would not choose a flashy looking bike. Get a good lock e.g. a D lock and always try to lock it to something immovable. Definitely do not get quick release wheels otherwise they will be quickly released.

At home you will want to keep your bike indoors in the pride of place so that you can admire it all day. Beware the Mrs, she will want to dump your bike outside on any excuse (hoovering etc etc) where upon the bike will instantly be nicked (five b*&*%^&y times!!!!!).

If you are mechanically incompetent like me then set a good relationship up with your local bike shop. But make sure you set their expectations about what you can afford. This allows a £200 repair bill to actually be a £50 repair bill. It is also good fun learning to do certain repairs for yourself.

Keep an eye out for local group rides because they are fun to join and you can pick up loads of advice.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 10:02am
by Cugel
An alternative to the second-hand MTB approach: buy a new electric bike.

This would be more expensive. You risk getting the "wrong" bike for you, which might make it even more expensive if you want to change to something else. But .....

Advantages would probably be:

* You get into cycling more easily, especially up the hills, which must be hard for an unfit 20 stoner at first.
* Pleasure from cycling will arrive earlier and may get you over the initial hump of, "This is hard and horrible".
* A new bike often induces pride of ownership and thereby a greater attachment to cycling.

Don't think that an electric bike is no exercise at all. The vast majority require you to work at pedalling before they will help with the motor. It just makes your legs seem a bit stronger in terms of the results (speed). You can work just as hard on an electric bike as you do on an ordinary one. But you can still keep going with just a little effort if you get very tired or close to exhausted.

As others have said, make the initial cycling experience as least-horrible as you can by getting the bike contact points right - feet, bum, hands. This means proper shoes, saddle, mits/bars & bar-squish stuff.

Try to understand the gears and to "spin" (the pedals) as this'll be least strain on ankles, knees, hips and leg muscles.

Swimming is a great complementary activity to cycling, especially if you're very heavy.

Dietary changes make an enormous difference to weight. Avoid the sugar rush stuff and other fud that tends to stimulate the appetite even more. Avoid the salty junk fud too as it's the biggest cause of high blood pressure - not a good thing when cycling hard, which can amplify any possibilities of heart issues, strokes and similar circulatory risks.


Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 11:35am
by simonhill
Surprised no one has asked about budget. Impossible to make any specific recommendations without knowing how much the OP wants to spend.

I agree with Vorpal that OP should try to find local bike recycling scheme, could also be known as 'recycle'. Try googling or contact your local council.

Good luck.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 11:48am
by thelawnet
There's an interesting article here ... ths-busted

Basically there are three points:

You don't need to eat before you exercise
You don't need to eat after you exercise, if you go hard (true, IME)
People who tell you about 'fat burning zones' are lying - yes, it burns fat, but so incredibly slowly, you won't actually lose weight. It is much better to work very hard for short periods than to do steady effort. Part of this is the 'afterburn', i.e. the fact that if your heart is up to 190 bpm or whatever for a brief period, then essentially you are doing work after the exercise.

Despite this, while a five minute hard burst is better than nothing, it's not really sufficient in the long-term.

Here's some bits about eating and exercise ... ght-Loss-0

The above is not I think atypical in terms of going out in a group.

OTOH I find I can cycle four hours on my own on nothing except a drink half way through. There IS a point where you 'run out of fuel', but it's not something I've personally experienced.

BTW I don't know at 20 stone what your capacity is to exercise hard so you might want to speak to your doctor about that. You will obviously be starting small at moving up to longer duration.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 11:50am
by horizon
thirdcrank wrote:I think it's mistaken to assume that cycling = weight loss although it should mean a valuable increase in fitness.

I am wondering if in the case of the OP and indeed all of us, cycling =

1. Developing muscles that will use calories even when sedentary
2. Provides the fitness (even early on) to simply do more like popping upstairs to retrieve a book and so exercise begets exercise
3. Gets you to do stuff rather than using eating as a "What shall I do now?" option
4. Starts to get you into "shape" so it provides an incentive to follow the diet, go to the gym or whatever (positive reinforcement)
5. Gives a sense of achievement which may spill over into dietary control
6. Forces you to mix with people who already have good habits (well, in general, cake shops notwithstanding) so you get positive encouragement

So although you are absolutely right, the physical cycling alone doesn't get rid of the calories (at least not enough), it adds extras in all sorts of other ways so is a great starting point for the OP and as you say, the increase in fitness is invaluable.

Re: 20st. mid-20's Beginner "cyclist" looking for advice on where to start

Posted: 4 Apr 2019, 11:56am
by horizon
simonhill wrote:Surprised no one has asked about budget.

paddywan wrote:
I've quit smoking,

So basically he can walk into Evans and name his price, so to speak.

"Smoking is expensive and you might be surprised at how it all adds up. On average, most people who quit save around £250 each month. That's nearly £3,000 a year going up in smoke"