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First rides - got a reality check!

ThisGirlCantThisGirlCant Posts: 48
edited August 2017 in Road beginners
Not cycled for a few years and recently got my first road bike.

Took it out for the first time yesterday and boy did I get a reality check! Realised how unfit/overweight/wobbly I was. Only did 4 miles but really struggled on the hills (no avoiding them where I live).

Also felt very nervous going downhill and didn't have much faith in the brakes despite altering the reach. Not sure if the brakes are just bad, I'm too heavy, hands are too small or a combination of the three?

Anyway, repeated the loop tonight with my saddle raised, it it did make a difference, but still struggled on the hills (didn't get off though!). Did feel a bit more in control of the bike though and even enjoyed myself in parts! I'm trying not to feel disheartened with struggling at such a small distance, but I guess we all start somewhere.

It gets easier right?

Posts

  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    As long as it's fun the cycling will get easier I reckon. If you enjoy the freedom the other aspects like fitness, handling skills, etc will come.
  • JoshgavJoshgav Posts: 158
    If you are concerned about the brakes, ask a friend or a LBS to check them over for you if you aren't confident enough to have a look yourself. First and foremost you need to be safe.
  • Joshgav wrote:
    If you are concerned about the brakes, ask a friend or a LBS to check them over for you if you aren't confident enough to have a look yourself. First and foremost you need to be safe.

    I think the issue might be my hands tbh, I'm a confident mechanic, but a novice/nervous cyclist.

    I have short fingers so feeling like I can't quite reach enough when it matters. Maybe it's just practice, or may need to have another tinkering session...
  • pinnopinno Posts: 45,342
    Joshgav wrote:
    If you are concerned about the brakes, ask a friend or a LBS to check them over for you if you aren't confident enough to have a look yourself. First and foremost you need to be safe.

    I think the issue might be my hands tbh, I'm a confident mechanic, but a novice/nervous cyclist.

    I have short fingers so feeling like I can't quite reach enough when it matters. Maybe it's just practice, or may need to have another tinkering session...

    Different handle bars have different profiles. It might be worth finding a handlebar that achieves both hood position and reach. A lever position that suits your position on the bike and a shorter gap from bar to lever that is more practical for applying the brakes.
    There's no reason why you can't have both (inexpensively). It may also mean a change in stem length but none of that should phase you.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • ZeeSaffaZeeSaffa Posts: 68
    I broke my ankle very badly last year mountain biking.
    After a long time off the bike I decided to get a roadie for training purposes. Didnt expect to enjoy it but saw it as a necessity.
    First couple of rides out on my own were not great. Felt unstable (like you) and my weak ankle / leg made things worse. Plus, also very boring.

    Roll on a few weeks and Im absolutely loving it!! Never thought I would.
    Going out with a few mates now so there is a social aspect to it which I miss from mtb'ing.
    Feeling stable on the bike and my fitness is impriving massively. Friends leave me for dust on the climbs but thay doesn't matter - gravity helps me catch up on the descents ;-)

    Got a 30 miler tomorrow morning and cant wait!

    Stick with it mate... I think it's worth it :-)
  • Pinno wrote:
    Joshgav wrote:
    If you are concerned about the brakes, ask a friend or a LBS to check them over for you if you aren't confident enough to have a look yourself. First and foremost you need to be safe.

    I think the issue might be my hands tbh, I'm a confident mechanic, but a novice/nervous cyclist.

    I have short fingers so feeling like I can't quite reach enough when it matters. Maybe it's just practice, or may need to have another tinkering session...

    Different handle bars have different profiles. It might be worth finding a handlebar that achieves both hood position and reach. A lever position that suits your position on the bike and a shorter gap from bar to lever that is more practical for applying the brakes.
    There's no reason why you can't have both (inexpensively). It may also mean a change in stem length but none of that should phase you.

    Thanks, will look into it.
  • ZeeSaffa wrote:
    I broke my ankle very badly last year mountain biking.
    After a long time off the bike I decided to get a roadie for training purposes. Didnt expect to enjoy it but saw it as a necessity.
    First couple of rides out on my own were not great. Felt unstable (like you) and my weak ankle / leg made things worse. Plus, also very boring.

    Roll on a few weeks and Im absolutely loving it!! Never thought I would.
    Going out with a few mates now so there is a social aspect to it which I miss from mtb'ing.
    Feeling stable on the bike and my fitness is impriving massively. Friends leave me for dust on the climbs but thay doesn't matter - gravity helps me catch up on the descents ;-)

    Got a 30 miler tomorrow morning and cant wait!

    Stick with it mate... I think it's worth it :-)

    That's good to know! I'm sure I just need to put in time and miles. I guess 4 miles is better than none...
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    You can change your gearing to suit and adjust the reach with brake levers. How to do it depends on what groupset you have. I'm presuming Shimano so; https://youtu.be/GESGpwNLuTQ
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • craigus89craigus89 Posts: 887
    Keep at it, it does get easier and you'll get loads of satisfaction in a few weeks when you do 20 miles and remember how tough those first 4 were.

    When my wife started a few years back, she had barely ridden a bike before, and was very nervous with the brakes. When I discussed it with her she was actually just concerned that she wouldn't be able to stop immediately if needed. When I explained that in the thousands of miles I have done I can only recall once ever needing to do an 'emergency stop' she felt better about it. 99% of the time the brakes are only used to 'trim' off speed rather than to stop you. The more you ride the more comfortable you'll get controlling the bike, the brakes are just one aspect of that.
  • Craigus89 wrote:
    Keep at it, it does get easier and you'll get loads of satisfaction in a few weeks when you do 20 miles and remember how tough those first 4 were.

    When my wife started a few years back, she had barely ridden a bike before, and was very nervous with the brakes. When I discussed it with8 her she was actually just concerned that she wouldn't be able to stop immediately if needed. When I explained that in the thousands of miles I have done I can only recall once ever needing to do an 'emergency stop' she felt better about it. 99% of the time the brakes are only used to 'trim' off speed rather than to stop you. The more you ride the more comfortable you'll get controlling the bike, the brakes are just one aspect of that.

    Thank you. This is really encouraging.
  • ryan_w-2ryan_w-2 Posts: 1,162
    I come from a MTB background and have always enjoyed the rough stuff (DH, AM, XC).

    Three years ago after being off a bike for around 5 years, I got into road cycling.

    My first 'proper' ride was a 130km loop down into Surrey with some guys from work. I was off the bike and walking up hills after 50km. I was SO out my depth and frankly embarrassed since I've been biking for most of my life.

    Fast forward 3 years and I'm now a sprightly 90kg down from 107kg, I'm still slow-ish up hills but really enjoy them, and a few months back I completed Lands End to John O'Groats (1,000 miles in 8 days).

    Just stick to it and don't let anything phase you. For me now, cycling is an everyday activity and a great release form the mundane chores of adult life ;)
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  • It gets easier. 8 months again I didn't own a bike. Got one, first ride was about 5 miles and it nearly killed me.

    Now I do a couple of 50+ mile rides a week.

    It still hurts though, I'm just going further and faster :)
  • mellexmellex Posts: 214
    It gets easier right?

    You'll get faster, ride tougher routes and possible join group rides with more experienced riders. Sure, this will help improve your fitness and bike handling but at the end of the day, if you're really trying, you'll always be asking yourself 'when will this get easier?'
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 4,866
    It never gets easier, if you are always trying to push your boundaries.;)
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  • stormsedgestormsedge Posts: 18
    Stay with it! I barely cranked through six miles my first couple of rides in January (started out with my MTB). Worked up to 20-40 mile training rides by end of April and rode in my first Metric Century in May (on a frankenbike I built from a hybrid I'd had for over 25 yrs). Headed for a 75 miler next week on a new bike. Thankfully, I think I look good going slow...LOL. (Over 60yo btw...first time I've seen that in print). It's all about fun, fitness, and emotional peace. :D

  • It gets easier right?

    No, you just get faster
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • bungle73bungle73 Posts: 753
    Confidence descending just comes with practice and experience. There's a shortish steep descent near me where up until about the mid-part of last year I was so lacked confidence about riding down it I used to get off my bike and walk it down. Then one day I decided to push myself to actually ride down it, which I did.....if only at a crawl. Then I got a bit faster every time I did it. There's also another longer one on another route that I was previously crawling down, and now I'm flying down both.
  • steve91steve91 Posts: 30
    I bought my first road bike this morning having only used MTB in the past, but daily commuting has forced me to make the change. I too found myself very wobbly, and lacking in confidence - I even hesitated to grab my water bottle while moving as I didn't feel like I was stable enough!

    Practice makes perfect though!
  • Thanks everyone.

    Went on a 10 mile ride by myself tonight. It didn't seem that bad, possibly because I was going at my own pace rather than trying to keep up with my partner.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    Hi there

    Well done so far, stick at it, it will come together. As mentioned, brake levers can be adjusted for smaller hands, so that worth exploring.

    One thing that has not been mentioned is bike fit. With everything adjusted to make you efficient and comfortable,met will make the whole experience much more pleasant and make you feel more confident as it will feel easier ( relatively speaking!)

    All the best

    PP
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Thanks everyone.

    Went on a 10 mile ride by myself tonight. It didn't seem that bad, possibly because I was going at my own pace rather than trying to keep up with my partner.

    It's always a bad move to try and keep up with someone else, when you're first starting out. It's a sure fire way to demotivate yourself. Take it at your own rate, and don't be disheartened by anyone else's ride.
  • DaglessDagless Posts: 12
    Although not being on a bike in a few years is probably a big part to play in balance/stability... as it was also your first road bike the slimmer harder tyres probably play a part too. Mountain bike tyres are twice as wide and maybe only half the pressure of road bikes. It's easier to balance on a half-deflated football than it is on a fully pumped up one.

    Bike geometry could play a part too, I think in general if the bike has a longer wheelbase it will feel more stable at high speed, but harder to control at lows speeds (more experienced riders may be able to confirm this, but I only have 1 bike at the moment so am just going off basic physics & a few youtube videos of info)

    That said, after a few rides I suspect you will get used to it.
  • Zmac31Zmac31 Posts: 34
    Not cycled for a few years and recently got my first road bike.

    Took it out for the first time yesterday and boy did I get a reality check! Realised how unfit/overweight/wobbly I was. Only did 4 miles but really struggled on the hills (no avoiding them where I live).

    Also felt very nervous going downhill and didn't have much faith in the brakes despite altering the reach. Not sure if the brakes are just bad, I'm too heavy, hands are too small or a combination of the three?

    Anyway, repeated the loop tonight with my saddle raised, it it did make a difference, but still struggled on the hills (didn't get off though!). Did feel a bit more in control of the bike though and even enjoyed myself in parts! I'm trying not to feel disheartened with struggling at such a small distance, but I guess we all start somewhere.

    It gets easier right?

    Hey Fellow biker,


    A month in for and i was exactly like you barely able to do over 5 miles at first. It would take me like 30 minute after the ride to be able to breathe and stop sweating, I can tell you that all that stopped for after the second week. My rides length doubled after the second week and I am going to try a 30 mile ride this weekend. It gets much easier and fun. Try to ride with a friend at first it will help you keep your pace.
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