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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Unhappy New Road Bike Rider

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    I have a mountain bike and have riden only a mountain bike in some form for the first 27 years of my life. I have now bought a road bike because my husband likes to do it and thought it could be something that we could do together. In the 4 rides I have been on, I have fallen once. Now that doesn't sound like much but in total I have only put 9 miles on my bike which is nothing. I am one of those people that for one reason or another, I am afraid of everything and always think of the bad stuff before trying anything. So lets say I am walking downstairs...I will first think "what happens if I trip and plummet down the stairs."...I can't seem to get over my fear...let me tell you whats going on with me and the bike. I know that physics states that the faster you go then the more stable the bike is but for some reason I am very wobbly and the faster i go the more scared I get and then I start cursing. Also being clipped in makes me feel like I have no place to go...almost like I am strapped to the bike and what happens if I fall, I will eat the pavement hard especially at a fast speed. I really want to get over any and all fears especially with biking because today after 2 miles I got back in the truck feeling disheartened and a failure while my husband went on a 20 mile bike ride by himself. He told me "why keep it, lets sell it" and I told him "no I am going to keep trying". This is where I need some advice. What should I do. The bike place told me that i need to get used to the clipless pedals and shouldn't use the regular "mountain-bike" type pedals. They said the sooner I get used to them then the better. Also, my question is why does the bike seat have to be so tall that I can only reach the ground on my tiptoes when I am leaned over a little? I had a bike fitting and my husband says that its because I will hurt if I don't but what about a mountain bike...my seat is down far enough that I can reach the ground from sitting position with toes but my road bike I can't. I am just so frustrated and sad that I can't do this or anything. I feel like a failure and I know that if I get back on, I will feel wobbly again. Please help...what can I do...also higher speeds scare me and so do cars....help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Unhappy addition

    I just don't feel in control....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sahasara, I sounded EXACTLY like you when I started on my road bike back in September. I had been riding a hybrid for a few months and had no plans to make a switch, but a 2008 Specialized Dolce Elite pretty much fell in to my lap, and I couldn't say no.

    The first month was miserable! I felt like the bike was so sketchy compared to my hybrid. I was so close to throwing in the towel completely. Clipping in was terrifying at first too. So I decided to conquer one thing at a time. I put my hybrid's flat pedals on the Dolce, just to give myself a chance to get used to the bike itself and not compound the nerves with trying to learn how to clip in and out.

    Riding with the flats that I was used to really did help me learn how the new, much lighter bike handled and then once i had a little confidence I put the SPD pedals back on and I could focus on that.

    If you aren't comfortable with the seat all the way up, then gradually raise it as your comfort level and confidence increases (that one freaked me out too!). Don't let anyone tell you that have to do things one way or another - just take it at your own speed and don't give up!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    For the love of God, please ignore the bike shop and take the clipless pedals off. You aren't racing. You can add them back later if you want to. First just get used to cycling again. Ride around a track at a school if you feel safer doing that. Lower the seat a little if you need to. Gradually raise it as you get more comfortable. Don't worry how long it takes. It is supposed to be fun!


    2010 Trek 5.2 Madone WSD, SI Diva Gel Flow
    2002 Terry Classic, Terry Liberator

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    Here's a secret: My first road bike ride was terrifying. Really. And I fell. I took a chunk out of the bar tape one time, and put a deep scratch in a seat stay another (through clear coat, paint, and into the metal!)

    Don't listen to the bike shop. Take the clipless pedals off and take the time to get used to the bike. Road bikes feel twitchy and wobbly for the first 10, 20, 30...miles, especially at those low speeds, and even more so if you're tense. Find an empty, flat parking lot, and just ride around. Practice stopping, starting, turning... I understand: It's new and unfamiliar and that can be scary. (I'm the same way.)

    On the saddle height: It's supposed to be better for your knees and energy output. However, if it's really freaking you out this much, draw a line in permanent marker on the seatpost just above that "collar", then drop it enough to where you feel comfortable, or ask your husband or the bike shop to do it. As you get used to the bike, you can gradually raise it. (Also, there's a good chance your knees will find out how uncomfortable it is. )

    PS: It took me nearly a YEAR to make the jump to clipless pedals. You don't need TWO learning curves going on at the same time.
    Last edited by Owlie; 04-21-2012 at 09:46 AM.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva

    Saving for the next one...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    I agree with all of the above posts! You don't have to go clipless now. It is a big jump from mtn bike to road, and more so with clipless thrown in there. I went from hybrid to road late last year, and held off on clipless until I was comfortable with the new bike. Throw some plain old platform pedals on there until YOU feel comfortable.
    I still have trouble with shifting sometimes, because the road and hybrid bikes have different systems...makes for some interesting moments
    Any paved greenways near you that you can practice on? Might help to make you feel more comfortable without traffic.
    Did you have clipless on your mtn bike?

    Please don't give up! It does take a little while to get used to riding in traffic, but once you understand the rules of the road on a bike, it will get better.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    West MI
    Your bike shop sucks. Single-sided road pedals right away on a brand new road bike?! I had some rough moments switching to these after riding THOUSANDS of miles with double-sided SPD mountain pedals...and before that I'd logged some miles on a clunky mountain bike with just platforms. Ignore their "advice" and master one thing at a time. Road bikes do feel really unstable at first. Trying to deal with clipless pedals from the start just adds another big factor to learn. For many (most?) of us it would be too much to take in all at once.
    run/bike log

    '11 Cannondale SuperSix 4 Rival
    '12 Salsa Mukluk 3
    '14 Seven Mudhoney S Ti/disc/Di2

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Buffalo, NY
    I second what every one else has said. Take the clipless peddles off. Lower the seat. I have ridden all my life but only recently started riding with clipless peddles. I just didn't see the point. And lets face it, they aren't "necessary." Of course, now I like riding clipped in but it took time. For me, lots of time. It sounds like your goal is to keep up with your DH? If so, eventually you would want the clipless peddles and the seat up - but you are never going to get there if you are too afraid. Have to take it one tiny step at a time - at your own pace. In situations where you feel safe. Start on bike paths at your own speed. Go faster when it feels comfortable.
    I applaud you for not giving up. Facing our fears is always difficult but it takes more courage and spunk to keep going and it seems like deep down - you may be more fearless than you think.

    2006 Specialized Dolce Elite/Specialized Stock Saddle
    2011 Surly LHT/Brooks S Flyer

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Do you need anyone else to agree with the posts above? If so, here I am!

    Switch pedals, drop seat. Gradually raise seat as you get more confident and/or if your knees start to hurt.

    Start with short rides in low traffic areas. Put your bike on the rack and drive to the start of the ride if it will help avoid high traffic areas at home.

    Let us know how it goes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    hang in there! Take the wise women's advice on pedals and saddle.
    I would suggest you start focusing on your success than possible failure. You have nine miles of success and 27 years of mtb success. Conjure a pleasant memory from some of those rides.
    You also might try riding in a lower pressure environment. (W/o the so, perhaps. On a bike path perhaps.) Baby steps and enjoy your progression. It will happen.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Thumbs up Thank you

    Thanks everyone. That helps alot because for awhile there I kept thinking I was the only person this would happen to. Is it hard on the knees to lower it for awhile? Just curious. I mean it can't be any harder on the knees than my mountain bike. How long until you start to raise up the seat? Just when I feel really good then take it up a little bit and just keep going till I've mastered it and have my "black line" back in place? Maybe that is what I will try. Yes I am going to get the flat pedals. That should help. then I will only ride around my neighborhood and on the bike path...eventually hoping to get to where I can ride anywhere (that has a road).

    You guys have given me the hope I need and I will share my next ride once I get my pedals swapped out.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    I'm a beginner at road biking and the salesperson at my LBS knew how nervous I was about making the switch to a road bike.

    He set up my bike so that my seat is lower than my handlebars and told me *not* to buy clipless yet. He told me to go out and get used to the bike, ride it around on less trafficked roads and the bike path, and when I was good and ready and comfortable with my riding, he told me to come back so he could raise my seat and then show me the clipless pedals they had available.

    Honestly, it was the best advice he could have given me. I'm still not comfortable riding in a group ride but have made great progress at my local bike path and just recently joined a bike club. I don't think there is any "Set" amount of time when you "have" to do something. Its dependent on your comfort level and only you will know when you're ready to raise your seat and ride clipless, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Good Luck.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    I think I chose the wrong bike shop. I wish my experience would have been like that. I will lower the seat. Have you raised it yet or still practicing ?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Between FL & NC
    Great advice here from the other TE members!!
    This is from my experience: Get rid of the clipless pedals for now, install some platforms pedals and change them back once you have built a "relationship" with your new road bike. There's a lot to take when you change from a mountain to a road bike so one step at a time will help you by not overwhelming you with all the new things to learn. I changed to platforms since I fell three different times because I forgot to unclip while waiting in a huge intersection and two different occasions in different areas around my neighborhood. I was so afraid to the point of thinking of selling the bike. But NO, I decided that I was going to put platform pedals(after a lot of trial and error with other clip less systems) and went back to basics; which was learning to handle the new bike, learning to ride it, learning the differences between a mountain and a road bike, building a "relationship" with it (I know I'm dramatic). Since the pedal switch, I had put more than 80 miles (local trails) on my new road bike!! Oh, and I spent a s*h*t load of money on pedals that I'm planning to use later but ONLY when I'm ready :-) I actually created a thread about fear of clipping and unclipping (http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=46967). Read it when you can since Indigoiis, another Team Estrogen member, gave me GREAT advice that I followed and it had helped me a lot. Good luck and keep us posted.
    Last edited by Maye; 04-22-2012 at 06:57 AM.
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Jacksonville area of NC
    I agree with the others, take the clipless pedals off. I've been riding a road bike for almost 2 years now and have pedals that are clipless on one side and platform on the other side. I still have issues with confidence clipping my right foot in. I'm fine with my left foot clipped in, but not my right. At this point I doubt I'll ever go full clipless.



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