May 05, 2009

The lazy woman's guide to exercise

I like the idea of working out while sitting down. It appeals to my inner slug. With gasoline costs rising, and people feeling the need to economize, bicycles purchases are up. And it seems like people are actually riding them. So the lazy woman thought she should write a guide to bicycles.

Cyclists take over I-5!

Note: Before you buy a bicycle, make sure it fits you!
(In the end, comfort rules.)

Dutch bicycle
Pro: These are the old fashioned upright bicycles that are suddenly fashionable in all the best trendy areas.
Con: They're so sturdy that they're fairly heavy. Not good for use in San Francisco, but definitely healthy transport.
Tip: -- Before deciding what to wear when you ride, check out the New York Times fashion slide show; it demonstrates how All The Best People dress when riding one.

City/hybrid bike

Pro: They're useful; the thick tires make it harder to get a flat when riding over sharp rocks or small seen-at-the-last-minute pieces of glass.
Con: Heavier than a road bike (though not nearly as heavy as a Dutch bike), the extra weight might prove a burden if you have to climb a lot of hills.
Tip: This is probably the best bike to get if you're not sure what kind of riding you're likely to be doing.

Road bike
Pro: Best for use on long bike rides or for serious hills.
Con: Have to watch it if riding this bike on the street. With old-fashioned gratings, the tires can slip in between, thus causing you to come to a nasty sudden stop.
Tip: If planning to do serious hills, make sure the bike comes with a triple chain ring. (Translation, make sure it's got the oomph to get you up the hill. What your legs can't manage, the gears might be able to do.)

Recumbent bike

Pro: People who ride 'bent' bikes think they're the best thing since chopped liver. They're certainly easier on the tush.
Con: I kept tensing up my neck trying to "see" everything from the angle I could when I was on my regular bike. You have to adjust to being so much lower down while riding. Felt kind of like driving a mini cooper and being surrounded by SUVs.
Tip: Supposed to be much better for the back and also hills are supposed to be doable, even if you can't pedal standing up.

Tandem bicycle
Pro: Excellent for the lazy people out there -- if you're the one in back, you can kick back and let the front man do all the work.
Con: If the front man notices, you're in deep trouble.
Tip: These bikes can be detrimental to matrimony. I've seen a lot of husbands and wives who have had trouble synchronizing their movements-- oh clean it up, guys, I'm talking on the bicycle -- no, seriously, stop smirking, I mean riding the bicycle, I mean -- oh the heck with this, let's move on.

Bikes with kids & kids & kids (add on bike)
Pro: In Portland, the Bridge Pedal bike ride brings out whole families. Since not all children can ride a 36 mile bike ride, these bicycles are pretty handy. You get some tired-looking parents by the end of the ride, but at least no one had to stay home.
Con: the kids are behind you, so you can't always see what they're up to and pay attention to the road at the same time. (Still, you'd get that problem with a mini-van as well.)
Tip: If the children can be encouraged to help out with the pedaling, they'll be nice and tired by the end of the ride.

There are also mountain bikes, but they don't belong on a lazy woman's list. Waaay too much exercise involved in those things. For evidence of such, see the video below.

I brazenly stole leveraged this video clip from Half-Fast, who got it from someone else. It's not ever something I would ever dream of doing with a bicycle, but this guy has an amazing sense of balance.


  1. Ive so so wanted to try the tandem or the recumbent for ages.
    Where I live (the land of the lance I like to call it) it seems everyone but I fancies themselves a cyclist.

    Those recumbent bikes are actually pretty sideoftheroad common.

    please to get one for a giveaway :)

  2. I so love riding! When I lived in the land of the lance--as miz so appropriately coined, I used to ride weekly! ahh, i miss it...

    On this side of the pond, its known as cycling and city cycling is waay to hard core for me!


  3. It looks like soo much fun. I miss riding a bike. I used to do it as a kid but not much anymore.

  4. Thanks for the rundown!

    I'm a hybrid person, but unfortunately, when I bought a bike over a decade ago, I seem to have chosen one a bit too small for me. (We moved soon thereafter to an unfriendly bike area and it stayed in the basement until last year). Now that I've resurrected it, I wonder what the heck I was thinking? Still it's great for short rides, but if I ever got serious I'd need a bigger one.

    But I love having the thicker tires and stability without the weight of a mountain bike or a Dutch bike. And it's still lightweight compared to the road bike I rode 25 years ago, so as long as I stay off a modern one I have no idea what I'm missing.

    Would definitely get another hybrid, would just pay more attention to sizing!

  5. I'm beginning to realize that my bike is a wrong fit for me. That seat in particular used to fit so well...

    The video is amazing. A combination of dance and flight.

  6. dragonmamma/naomiMay 5, 2009 at 7:45 AM

    Lance who? I live in the land of Levi:

    Our home boy has been very influential on city policy regarding bike riding. My favorite street for getting around has recently been declared an official "bike boulevard". We'll be getting traffic circles and the right to ride down the middle of the street and everything!

  7. dragonmamma/naomiMay 5, 2009 at 7:49 AM

    Lemme try that link again:

  8. The Wright brothers were bikers before they were fliers :-)

    Love, love, love, my bike, "Desperado!"

    A buddy of mine wants to introduce me to a recumbent.

  9. "Appeals to my inner slug". Too funny.

    Another con of recumbent bike from my point of view (regardless of the great good sense they make for bad backs and increasing popularity): the dork factor.

  10. I have always wanted to try a recumbent!! But I've worried about the not being able to stand up part. Plus, how dorky would I look walking a recumbent up a hill?

    PS> I think you missed a few (hunderd) cons to riding with your kids in tow...

  11. I can't remember the last time I rode a bike. But for some reason, the tandem bikes freak me out...I don't think I could ever get my buns on one of those.

    Hmmm although those hybrids sure look fun...

  12. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a hybrid bike until recently. I have friends who love mountain biking in the local hills here in L.A.. I wish I wanted to do join them....

  13. My bike's a mountain bike-- a friend gave it to me-- but I'd love to trade it in for something lighter since I'm not actually hardcore enough to use it off-road.

  14. I so love biking. Been into it for the last two years. I have a hybrid and ride on both road and trails with it and it works well for me. Ad you should see my legs they are amazing from the 100+ miles I ride a week. In the colder months I even invested in an indoor trainer...yeah I'm a biking dork! LOL

  15. Koolgyrl, I agree -- biking is a great way to get in shape. While sitting down, which does appeal to me.
    Miz, land of the lance makes me think of everyone in all y'all's area cycling around with long jousting lances. Sounds a bit scary ;)

  16. I used to love bicycling of course we didn't have to wear helmets then, do you have to wear a helmet as an adult??

  17. You don't have to wear a helmet if you're an adult. Personally, I think you would look very, very nice wearing one. Chic.

  18. I bike with my dog. She is so hyper she needs to be running all of the time. I thought of it because I wanted to be lazy (aka sit down) and somehow get my dog exercised at the same time. Riding a bike has been a great way to get both of us exercise.

  19. I love my bike! And I REALLY love that I can bike to work on a trail, without having to get on an actual road until the very end of the trip. I do wish, however, that I could find a TRULY comfy seat for my bike.

  20. I love my bike. Seriously. Just need to find a better seat for it & we'll be set.

  21. Man, I haven't been on a bike since I was a kid. I kind of want one of those cruiser bikes (is that the same as a Dutch bike?), though. Anything that I can put a basket on the front of is ok by me! Ha!

  22. I went from a bike bought off a rack to a bike that was fit to me and it made a huge difference in comfort and performance. Since there are approximately six gazillion bike seats available, keep trying until you find one you like (find a bike store that will let you try new ones).

    Moonlight Dancer, you only have to wear a helmet if you're fond of your brain.

  23. I am just not a bike person. I rode a bike a lot as a kid but I did live back east then & we had no traffic & it just kids playing. As an adult, I only use the lifecycle (upright or recumbent) in the gym if I am injured (hardly ever thank goodness!). I know at some point I may have to use it more but for now I will pass.

    As for outside biking, just does nothing for me. Maybe all the biking back & forth to classes in college with all my books turned me off to it!

    Also, I am in southern CA with tons of traffic & just not the best place to ride for me. Yes, I could drive to the hills/mountains but then I fight traffic too. I do love the weather here but there are the downsides to crowded southern CA. But, it just comes back more to it is not my thing for now but I never say never!

    Great post on all the options though!

  24. Biking is pretty much the only exercise I did when I started losing weight...I needed something that was easy on the joints and this fit the bill.

    Of course, now that I'm a hardcore workout girl (snicker), I look at my bike riding now as just a pleasant ride, not "real" exercise. Could also be due to the fact that I have a heavy cruiser-type 3-speed and there is only so much you can do with it (hence the "cruiser" name).

  25. I prefer the more upright postsure of the Dutch type of bike, but I have always wanted one of those big tricycles for adults. They look great, but are rather pricey. I am saving my pennies!

  26. i've had a mountain bike (yes, they're pretty heavy, but if you're not on pavement, gotta have it).

    i still have a comfort bike and managed to do my first tri with it; i like it for just wandering around.

    i got a road bike last year and LOVE IT. it's hard to get used to since the tires are so skinny, but i adore.

    brandon and i want to try out a tandem bike sometime. we think it would be fun. :)

  27. I'm bike shopping this weekend and have grand plans to be riding to and from work by the end of the summer!

    Great post!

  28. I have a road bike, just bought it last year. I use a recumbent (sometimes) for indoor exercise. I love bicycling. I love to drink margaritas when I'm finished with a long ride.

  29. I really want a bicycle. I just have issues with skeletal muscle problems from my neck. I hope I can use a bicycle again. I think it would help me to lose steadily.
    I love your blog.
    I just found it yesterday.

  30. i have a cheap walmart bike. purple. i have a basket on the front, but i want the panniers so i can buy the BIIIG bags of dog food. ATM, i have to have my husband pick me up if i'm getting the dog food. and yes, i have BIIIIG dogs.

  31. (Woo! Finally the comment page loaded, now that I've forgotten what I wanted to say this morning.)

    I want to try a recumbent (the lazier the better) but I need to start with something cheaper. Something that can handle the combination of gravel roads and steep hills. And first *I* have to get fit enough to handle them.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  32. My butt's too big for a regular bike, so when I got the exercycle, I got a recumbant. All three of us use it. Wish the scenery was better, though. Vee at

  33. This is actually fairly funny: Some Americans (I think) living in Shanghai created a parody of the NYT Dutch bikes piece: Shanghai Style: The Chinese Bicycle

  34. ooh, flashback to 12 years old when 10-speed road bikes just came out, I bought a white Peugot with my saved money and learned how to change and repair the tires (which got flats frequently). Then my friends and I joined the Girl Scouts for the sole purpose of going to the bicycle summer camp, where we rode over Taos pass from Angel Fire, then camped out on the other side of the mountain. They wouldnt let us ride down very far, though...said it was too dangerous (we would have flown!)
    We trained for that ride for months ahead, riding up to the Santa Fe ski basin from town. jeez was I fit.
    Now my favorite exercise is spinning. At least you can stand up from time to time, just when the seat starts feeling really hard....there's not much of a view but it's efficient exercise...


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