Fast and Furious: Finding the Perfect Bike

Now that I committed to riding, the next step was finding the perfect bike.  Knowing that my intentions were to ride at least three to four times a week, about 10 miles a ride, I immediately gravitated toward a road bike.

Schwinn makes an excellent women’s road bike, so I decided to get the Fastback 3.  It is a women’s specific bike, and based on my size, 5’2”, I knew I would need a small version.  The frame is lightweight aluminum, so I could also easily load and unload it from my vehicle.

The 24-speeds would allow me to easily change/adjust the intensities of my workout (be all Fast and Furious and stuff), but let’s be real, they also provide for a much needed reprieve when I am doing hills or other more challenging terrain.

The saddle is also specifically designed for women to provide comfort on those longer rides that I would build up to.

And did I mention I dig the colors and graphics package…you had me at lime.  Check it out:IMG_20140616_143438_018-1

So I went ahead and ordered the bike.  Within a few days it arrived and was set up.  One of my co-workers Ben assisted in building it out for me.  Check out this step by step photo slideshow we did of Ben setting up the Fastback 3 below.

He also helped with fitting to me.  This is an important part of the cycling set up process. You want to make sure your seat is at the right height, your bars are adjusted, and of course you have the right amount of air in the tires.  Ben suggested that I want to keep 90 psi in the front tire and 100 psi in the back tire.  He also said to check them after every couple of rides to keep me riding smoothly.

milissa surpriseHe was great about replacing my clip-in pedals, with regular sport bike pedals.  Clipping-in is a goal I will work up to and one that this lady was not about to do on her first voyage out.  Call it intimidation; I just say it is smart.  I want to get a feel for my bike—get comfortable with different riding conditions/experiences—and then I will start clipping-in.  Watch for a future post on clipping-in!

This picture about sums up my excitement for this bike.  I felt like I was a child again and it was late December.  Man am I stoked!!!

Let’s Ride!

Milissa

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Biking for Fitness: A 40-something Woman’s Journey

As a relatively new employee at Schwinn – I just celebrated my one year anniversary, I have decided to embark on a new journey with biking.  Since a child, my bicycling has consisted of casual riding with friends, my family, and the occasional ride at work with colleagues for a company outing.  I must say I love my Schwinn Cream (see pic below).  It is a fabulously, smooth-riding, classically-pretty bicycle with a basket, bell, and rack.

Me posing next to my Schwinn Cream

However, I have been inspired to try cycling this Summer for fitness. I have read that bicycling can be a great workout for my entire body and  I have been looking to develop better muscle tone in my legs, trim my waistline and increase my cardio heath.  Biking just made sense to me at this time in my life and career.

I am so committed to this journey that I have also agreed to blog about my experience as a novice over the course of the next few months.  I hope you enjoy the ride; perhaps you will also feel inspired and decide to join me!  We would love to hear about your journey too.

In preparation for this new adventure, I thought I would make use of the vast knowledge of my colleagues and interview one of my team members that I know bikes for fitness—Dave Duecker, Schwinn Brand Director.  Dave has been cycling his entire life; and has used bicycling as a way to maintain his health.  He has participated in many cycling events over the years, including the impressive Iron Man competition.  The following interview with Dave took place as I prepared to start my journey.

Milissa: How did you begin your journey with bicycling for fitness and why?

Dave: I was always fairly active with cycling growing up and all throughout school.  I have a history of heart disease in my family and cycling is a great way for me to stay fit.

10329199_642165735872697_7427979180040045537_nMilissa: What are the major health benefits of biking besides getting toned and reducing stress (two of the reasons why I am starting)?

Dave: Cycling will help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, and there are studies out there that cite that cycling can help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.  I think more importantly it is a great low-impact mode of exercise.   For anyone who has joint conditions or injuries in their legs or hips, which might keep them from being active; cycling is one of the best options to stay fit and active.

Milissa: What do you recommend as a cycling regimen for someone who is easing into biking like me?

Dave: I think the most important thing is to enjoy and embrace the total experience.  Just get out and ride and take in everything that nature has to offer.  Don’t be intimidated by spandex and shaved legs!  Don’t put pressure on yourself to finish in a time or maintain a certain speed.  Start slow, cycling uses different muscles than a lot of other type of exercises and it may take time for your body to get used to this type of activity.  That being said, make sure you have the proper equipment.

Milissa: What type of bike and equipment would you recommend; what items can you not live without on your bike?

Dave: Obviously you need a bike and the Schwinn Fastback if a great option!  However, any bike will do, just make sure it has been properly maintained, that the tires are inflated, the saddle is adjusted to the proper height, etc.  The most important thing is to have a helmet and it must pass CPSC and fit properly.   There are no exceptions on this one – you must wear a helmet!  You should also carry basic equipment like a bike repair kit and learn basic bike maintenance, such as how to change a tire, how to put your chain back on, and how to adjust your saddle.

Milissa: How can I expect to feel after riding?  In two weeks, two months, etc.

Dave: You should feel tired after a good ride, but not completely exhausted.  The first few weeks will be tough as your legs and lungs are getting used to the new activity.  After the initial few weeks, hopefully you will feel great and look forward to getting out on the next ride.

Milissa: What is the best time of the day to ride?

Dave: I love getting out early mornings.  I ride with a group every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  We meet at 5:30 am and ride for about 1-1/2 hours.    The sun is just coming up, there is very little traffic and all you hear is the wheels on the pavement.  After that ride, my head is clear and I have a ton of energy to get me through the day.  There is a group here at work that gets out for a lunch ride on a regular basis as well.  These rides are great as it breaks up the day.  We are fortunate to live in Madison as the cycling is great here.

Milissa: How should I track my progress?

Dave1Dave: There are a number of ways to track you progress.  I use Strava, but to be honest there are a many times I just go out and ride to see where the roads take me.  Last week my 14 year old daughter and I went out for a Sunday afternoon ride – we just went out on the road for about an hour and a half.  The cool thing is we saw a deer and its fawn run across a road.  How cool is that!  I was not worried about my rank on a segment, etc.  The one thing I do recommend is to set a personal goal.

Milissa: What is a good goal for me to set?

Dave: That depends on what you want to accomplish:  a 50 mile ride, a Century, ride three times a week, etc.  Charity rides are excellent.  They support wonderful causes, offer a ton of support on the ride, and the roads are managed by the event so traffic is typically reduced. A few events I have attended include the Birkebeinerrittet (The Birkebeiner Cycling Race in Norway), Kickapoo Kicker (local Wisconsin race), Ironman WI and a couple of the WORS MTB races (Wisconsin Off Road Series).

Milissa: Do you have any words of advice to a beginner?

Dave: Just go out and enjoy everything cycling has to offer!

Thanks Dave for all the advice.  I’m so excited to get out there and do it. 

Game on y’all.  This is going to be fun.

Get out and ride!

Milissa

From Mountain to Hybrid: “Whose Bike is that?”

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So you’re ready to switch to a new bike, huh? Well I’m in the same boat.  I’ve been riding around on the same mountain bike for far too many years now. It still rides great, don’t get me wrong, but I think it’s time to upgrade this bad boy for a bike in a popular new segment that has been catching my eye.

In recent years, bicycle designers noticed a growing trend in the number of casual, recreational and commuter bicyclists. This is the category I would drop myself into and most of the riders these days. They also realized that these bicyclists have different desires for how they want their bicycles to look and perform. So what did the bicycle designers do? They created a cross functional bike called the “hybrid” bike. This bike is the best of all worlds. It is perfect for riding to work, leisurely roaming around scenic unpaved trails, or just causally rolling down the street.

After dragging alongside with all my friends and co-workers on my old mountain bike, trying to keep up to them and then seeing how much my bike weighed compared to their light commuter bikes, I realized I needed something new. My mountain bike had the tire size, tire threads, and frame weight that was perfect for when I was riding on mountain bike trails, but it lacked the comfort, ease of use, and style I was looking for when I found myself wanting to bike to work every day.

Along came the hybrid. As soon as I saw it I was attracted to it.Screen-Shot-2012-12-06-at-12.06.41-PM  A lot of people I work with have these superfast, lightweight, carbon-framed road bikes with the skinny ole’ tires, but I quickly realized that that was not my style. What the hybrid offered me that road bikes didn’t was what appeared to be, a hell of a lot more comfort. The saddles on those bikes were so small and with no cushion! Not only that but I would constantly have to scope out each trail trying to dodge every bump because of the lack of suspension in the front forks. Call me lazy for not wanting to avoid every pot hole and bump on my bike ride, but I enjoy the ease of bicycling.

After I found what style of bicycle I was looking for, the finer search began as I looked for what specific model would appeal to my desires the most. I quickly turned to the Schwinn Bikes website. There I found a wide range of bikes, each with their own unique features.  With prices varying from $210 – $980, I felt like I didn’t have to break open my piggy bank to find the perfect bike.

S14_700M_Searcher1_CHR_D1

So I stuck to the features I wanted to find in my bike. I wanted a comfy stature while riding, not leaning too forward and not so far back where I’d be sitting straight up. Then the suspension fork; got to have it. I’m not trying to get rattled to smithereens if I decide to take off road it and take the gravel trail home.  Of course I need 24-speeds for maximum comfort when riding any terrain, and up or down hill. Last on my need list was disc brakes. I didn’t want to be riding to work and NOT have the option to stop on a dime if a squirrel was to dart right in front of me. (You see, you always have to be thinking about others when you make your choices too; it’s not always about you.)

So with my wishes and the animal’s consideration in place, I narrowed it down to the perfect bike for a commuter/recreational style rider like me. The Schwinn Searcher 2.The features on this bicycle matched my description perfectly.S14_700M_Searcher2_SLV

  • Suspension fork: SR Suntour® NEX suspension fork with hydraulic lock-out create a smooth responsive ride. Check.
  • Stylish: this model comes in a sleek gray with black and red accents. Not too much flash but not dull either. Check.
  • 24 Speeds: Shimano Alivio®/Acera® components with 24-speeds and Shimano Acera Rapid Fire+® shifters for quick shifting. Check.
  • Disc brakes: Tektro Novella disc brakes for extra stopping power, CHECK!

My next step was to find the right size.  I’m an average height kind of guy coming in around 5’10, 5’11 on a good day, so I asked some of my friends who are avid bike riders and they suggested that a “medium” bike would fit me just fine. For all you taller folks out there, 6’0” is on average the cutoff where you would find yourself looking at a Large or X-Large bike size.

 

Finally, the purchase! That moment when all of your hard work searching for the right bike pays off! Now in my opinion, this is the most exciting phase of finding a bike, so hang on to your seats because your about to be riding around in a brand new bike that all your friends are going to be eyeing up.

Get out and ride!

– Aric