Questions on basics from older beginner

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11/14/2019 6:21 AM

Hi all, I have some basic questions that I hope people can help with.

I bought my 6yo son a bmx for his birthday after he was showing an interest in doing lots of balance tricks and going up and down the ramps in our local park. He has been able to ride a bike since 3 and it's part of his body now and he seems to have a flair for it.

ANYWAY it all looked like fun and theres only so much you can do on foot trotting along behind your kid so I did some reading around and bought a bmx for myself so we can learn and ride together. I'm 42 and seriously have never ridden a bmx before or any sort of bike since I was 19!

So here I am, 6'3", bought a 20" bike with an XL top tube on the advice of the guys at source.

So anyway I'm loving it, having a blast and have set myself some targets for tricks over the next year and hoping I'm not going to hurt myself too much in the process (oh yeah in the past I've had 3 shoulder ops and a back injury that nearly paralysed me requiring surgery - is this all a good idea??!!)

Anyway after a couple of hours practice over a few days on a tennis court I'm able to bunny hop consistently about 8-12 inches off the ground, can't manual for shit yet, can hop the bike up onto the front wheel but can't quite nollie yet and I pushed off a wall and got about 6' of riding fakie. All feels like good progress to me and my kids think its brilliant. My mates incidentally find it hilarious and I've come in for some real piss taking. I wear a super smart suit in my day to day work life as a senior partner in my firm, arf.

. Off to the skate park for the first time this weekend with my boy (early when no one else is there!) And i plan on trying a few drop ins on the quarter pipe. I've been skiing all my life and am used to pushing myself and that feeling of nerves before doing something but then it all being ok so I'm hoping I can tap into that on my bike.

Anyway after all that ramble my questions are:

What is the importance of front foot forward? I instinctively put my left foot forward which is what I did on a skateboard but it feels like I could do it either way. Is it important? Why? should I practice everything both ways?

On a 180 bunny hop I gather that you hop away from your front foot. Is that right? But when I visualise myself doing it, my brain tells me that I should be going to the left not right. Should i just go to the right, does all this matter or am I over thinking it and just do what feels right?

When trying to ride fakie, when I pedal backwards often a pedal reaches the bottom and just stays there and I cant continue the revolutions and then I tip over. What's going wrong? Am going to try off some ramps this weekend with a bit more momentum so I'm assuming that will make it a bit easier.

Any other tips that anyone can think of for an older rider/beginner I'd be grateful. I'm pretty fit and in good shape and I feel as fit as when I was in my twenties but I can't believe how much hard work it is just practicing bunny hops for 20 minutes - legs lungs arms and chest all all burning

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11/14/2019 7:44 AM

Foot forward is irrelevant. As is any sort of way you pull off any particular trick (unless you are playing a game of bike and you are forced to do a trick in a particular fashion). Being able to pull off tricks in either direction (regular or opposite.... or "oppo") is advantageous to riding when obstacles may impede your approach or exit on one direction or anther so if you can do it, practice it both ways. So,to sum up, whatever way feels most comfortable for you is the way you should do it. As for fakies and your rear spin problem, barring any physical obstructions that are causing the "stop", practice sitting (the bike, not you) stationary with the bike supported by the rear wheel up against a curb or building or the front wheel supported someway, and practice backpedaling. It should be as smooth as possible.

As for the 180 question, I ride goofy (left foot forward... but I'm right handed... back when I skated, I skated right foot forward as this seems more natural for controlling the skateboard direction with my foot). I can spin in either direction but prefer to spin right.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

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11/14/2019 7:59 AM

Hey man first of all good for you for getting out there and diving into this amazing hobby! Sounds like you are on the right path practicing the basics and fundamentals of bike control. To answer some of your questions;

1) Importance of forward foot basically boils down to sticking with one or the other. Stick with the same one and get used to that. If it's left foot forward for you, then stick with left foot forward. I would only practice this way, and not both ways.

2) You are a beginner, so really you can learn/practice your 180's in which ever direction feels best. Neither way is incorrect or wrong. I ride left foot forward, and I spin to the left (Counter-clock wise). As you progress and pay attention to the sport you will gain a better understanding of the differences, but for now I wouldn't over think it and just do what feels right.

3) When rolling backwards, make sure you are keeping your weight centered and evenly distributed on each side/pedal. If you are having trouble back-pedaling, I suspect it's because you are placing to much weight on one side when really you need weight on both to be able to keep back-pedaling.

4) In general I would simply keep doing what you're doing. Keep practicing bunny hops. Condition those muscles. Do several sets/repetitions every time you ride. Practice hopping up onto small ledges and boxes when you feel comfortable. Focus on form, both pre-hop, in the air, and landing. Learn how to land and absorb the impact with the bike, your legs, and your arms. Practice hopping into transitions at the skatepark. Stick with the fakies too. Fakies are easier to control with more momentum, but that can be scary if you aren't comfortable yet. Also start practicing manuals. Find that balance point. A great way to practice these is in a parking lot using the painted lines to gauge your progress (i.e. first try hold a manual for the width of 1 parking spot, then 2, then 3...etc).

The best advice I would give you is to keep having fun, and keep pushing your limits wherever they may be. Set that example for your son and he will carry it with him into adulthood. Also, watch videos of the elite riders. See what it looks like when they ride and perform maneuvers to gain a better understanding of what makes certain things work. Good luck man!

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Streetbikes and Bicycles

11/14/2019 9:30 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/14/2019 9:32 AM

i suggest practice crashing and learning to fall when you're young and your body recovers fast.

and as you get older, just practice tricks that you have confidently and wont crash on, cuase crashing fucking sucks when youre older.

sorry for being negative but ive encouraged a few adults to ride bmx and then after a few month or so of some progress, they end up crashing hard and hurting something permanently

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wallride a bus everyday

11/14/2019 11:17 AM

Most important part when your just starting out is just time on the bike and getting comfortable with how the bike feels.

Get yourself to your local pump track with your boy (he’ll love it and so will you) your bike control will come much quicker.

Welcome & Enjoy

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Ride everything

11/15/2019 12:03 AM

Thanks for all the helpful advice. Some really useful stuff in here.

Buttmeate, yes a little late to learn to crash when i was younger. I will try not to hurt myself.

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11/15/2019 12:04 AM

d-Herz wrote:

Hey man first of all good for you for getting out there and diving into this amazing hobby! Sounds like you are on the right path practicing the basics and fundamentals of bike control. To answer some of your questions;

1) Importance of forward foot basically boils down to sticking with one or the other. Stick with the same one and get used to that. If it's left foot forward for you, then stick with left foot forward. I would only practice this way, and not both ways.

2) You are a beginner, so really you can learn/practice your 180's in which ever direction feels best. Neither way is incorrect or wrong. I ride left foot forward, and I spin to the left (Counter-clock wise). As you progress and pay attention to the sport you will gain a better understanding of the differences, but for now I wouldn't over think it and just do what feels right.

3) When rolling backwards, make sure you are keeping your weight centered and evenly distributed on each side/pedal. If you are having trouble back-pedaling, I suspect it's because you are placing to much weight on one side when really you need weight on both to be able to keep back-pedaling.

4) In general I would simply keep doing what you're doing. Keep practicing bunny hops. Condition those muscles. Do several sets/repetitions every time you ride. Practice hopping up onto small ledges and boxes when you feel comfortable. Focus on form, both pre-hop, in the air, and landing. Learn how to land and absorb the impact with the bike, your legs, and your arms. Practice hopping into transitions at the skatepark. Stick with the fakies too. Fakies are easier to control with more momentum, but that can be scary if you aren't comfortable yet. Also start practicing manuals. Find that balance point. A great way to practice these is in a parking lot using the painted lines to gauge your progress (i.e. first try hold a manual for the width of 1 parking spot, then 2, then 3...etc).

The best advice I would give you is to keep having fun, and keep pushing your limits wherever they may be. Set that example for your son and he will carry it with him into adulthood. Also, watch videos of the elite riders. See what it looks like when they ride and perform maneuvers to gain a better understanding of what makes certain things work. Good luck man!

Bingo - even weight distribution on pedals- that was it. Cheers.

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11/15/2019 10:19 AM

I gotta run but I want to respond to this later. Good for you though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gotta go see my Grandma in the nursing home. She's not doing well... Grrrrrrrr....

Kids have a way of pulling this child out in us. At least that's what happened with me this summer too. I'll talk more later. Good job sir!!!!

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11/16/2019 10:09 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/16/2019 10:14 AM

Actually, now that I have a chance I forgot what I was gonna say. Other than it's impressive that you can bunny hop that high already. My practice sessions are really short right now so my skill is not that good yet. I usually practice some hops after doing my nightly bike ride. When I get my bike put back together I want to practice in another part of the day so I'm not wore out from my ride. I've been battling lyme disease for like 10 years so I'm not in that good of shape. But it's been a lot of fun riding a bike this year and starting to do tricks.

I was always active growing up and even into my younger adult life before lyme disease. So I think I still have a bit of strength left from working out and being an athlete but I lost a lot of it. I went from 170 to 114 lbs at one point. Back to 140 now.

So be thankful for good health at 42 and yeah, I get the whole being concerned about getting hurt. I think the only advice I can give is just wear your pads and helmet and do your best. Everyone's path is different. Some of us get hurt, get disease and get put out of the game. And some don't. But one thing for sure, every day is a gift and wanting to live it at it's fullest is a good thing. We've seen a few people pass away around us who were our age and even younger from Cancer and what not. And it's like, live while you can. Sure, within reason cuz if you have kids relying on you to feed them, probably some wisdom should be exercised. But avoiding stuff cuz you MIGHT get hurt... well, that's not always the best way to go either. I guess you just have to figure out how far you want to push yourself. I won't be trying any flips on my bike anytime soon. LOL.

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11/16/2019 10:19 AM

Safety gear goes a long way for us old guys (I'm 47), I have knee/shin/helmet and I have taken some pretty heavy falls and I keep on going!

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11/16/2019 10:25 AM

Hey BigMeanPunk, could you tell me what type of stuff you wear? I need to get some decent stuff that hopefully doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I have a helmet, but I doubt it's any good. It is a Bell, but not sure if that's good enough or not. It is my wife's but I ride when she's not a lot.

Would like to figure out some good kneepads and probably elbow pads. And if need be a better helmet.


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11/16/2019 10:31 AM

If the helmet is certified and comfortable for you then it's good to go.

My helmet is a S1-Lifer. I like it because it has a small form factor and is dual certified. Also comes with extra liners (one size up and one size down) to really dial in the fitment.

As for my pads. I am using FUSE Delta knee pads and the FUSE whip shin pads with ankle protectors. I wear chinos to ride and they fit comfortably under..

Whatever gear you get make sure you do thier recommended measurements to see what sizes you need. One brand of knee pads, I was an L and another I was XXL!!

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11/16/2019 10:37 AM

I'll look those up. I'm also not sure how to know if my helmet is certified. My wife bought it new when she bought her bike about 10 years ago......

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11/17/2019 6:18 AM

Fortyseven wrote:

I'll look those up. I'm also not sure how to know if my helmet is certified. My wife bought it new when she bought her bike about 10 years ago......

Usually there are stickers inside the helmet, you may just have to see if you can find the model online and see what you can find. I like the S1 because it is rated for multiple low impact hits as well as 1 big one!

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11/17/2019 1:16 PM

Fortyseven wrote:

Actually, now that I have a chance I forgot what I was gonna say. Other than it's impressive that you can bunny hop that high already. My practice sessions are really short right now so my skill is not that good yet. I usually practice some hops after doing my nightly bike ride. When I get my bike put back together I want to practice in another part of the day so I'm not wore out from my ride. I've been battling lyme disease for like 10 years so I'm not in that good of shape. But it's been a lot of fun riding a bike this year and starting to do tricks.

I was always active growing up and even into my younger adult life before lyme disease. So I think I still have a bit of strength left from working out and being an athlete but I lost a lot of it. I went from 170 to 114 lbs at one point. Back to 140 now.

So be thankful for good health at 42 and yeah, I get the whole being concerned about getting hurt. I think the only advice I can give is just wear your pads and helmet and do your best. Everyone's path is different. Some of us get hurt, get disease and get put out of the game. And some don't. But one thing for sure, every day is a gift and wanting to live it at it's fullest is a good thing. We've seen a few people pass away around us who were our age and even younger from Cancer and what not. And it's like, live while you can. Sure, within reason cuz if you have kids relying on you to feed them, probably some wisdom should be exercised. But avoiding stuff cuz you MIGHT get hurt... well, that's not always the best way to go either. I guess you just have to figure out how far you want to push yourself. I won't be trying any flips on my bike anytime soon. LOL.

Thanks for the encouragement. A part of my head says to me I'm not ever going to fall or hurt myself...another part says its gonna happen...but I'm not stupid so I'm going to be as careful as I can be.... Will get some pads but it's not really my elbows shins and knees I'm worried about, more the sort of getting tangled up with the bike and smashing my face or landing on an outstretched arm and dislocating an elbow or shoulder or something. I hopped off a kerb yesterday and wobbled all over the place when I landed and felt like I nearly hit the tarmac so that sobered me up a bit

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11/17/2019 1:46 PM

Fortyseven wrote:

Actually, now that I have a chance I forgot what I was gonna say. Other than it's impressive that you can bunny hop that high already. My practice sessions are really short right now so my skill is not that good yet. I usually practice some hops after doing my nightly bike ride. When I get my bike put back together I want to practice in another part of the day so I'm not wore out from my ride. I've been battling lyme disease for like 10 years so I'm not in that good of shape. But it's been a lot of fun riding a bike this year and starting to do tricks.

I was always active growing up and even into my younger adult life before lyme disease. So I think I still have a bit of strength left from working out and being an athlete but I lost a lot of it. I went from 170 to 114 lbs at one point. Back to 140 now.

So be thankful for good health at 42 and yeah, I get the whole being concerned about getting hurt. I think the only advice I can give is just wear your pads and helmet and do your best. Everyone's path is different. Some of us get hurt, get disease and get put out of the game. And some don't. But one thing for sure, every day is a gift and wanting to live it at it's fullest is a good thing. We've seen a few people pass away around us who were our age and even younger from Cancer and what not. And it's like, live while you can. Sure, within reason cuz if you have kids relying on you to feed them, probably some wisdom should be exercised. But avoiding stuff cuz you MIGHT get hurt... well, that's not always the best way to go either. I guess you just have to figure out how far you want to push yourself. I won't be trying any flips on my bike anytime soon. LOL.

flyingfish wrote:

Thanks for the encouragement. A part of my head says to me I'm not ever going to fall or hurt myself...another part says its gonna happen...but I'm not stupid so I'm going to be as careful as I can be.... Will get some pads but it's not really my elbows shins and knees I'm worried about, more the sort of getting tangled up with the bike and smashing my face or landing on an outstretched arm and dislocating an elbow or shoulder or something. I hopped off a kerb yesterday and wobbled all over the place when I landed and felt like I nearly hit the tarmac so that sobered me up a bit

About weeks ago after I picked up this end of the driveway BMX find I was wanting to see if the tires held air. Plus it's a good 3 pounds lighter than my cruiser so I thought I'd see if I can bunny hop on it higher. And then I wanted to try and manual or wheelie or both. Well, on one of my wheelie tries I was going a bit faster and the bike came all the way up and I had to put my feet on the ground. I was a bit sideways and my right foot stay planted and I went down on my left knee on my concrete drive. I laid there for a few minutes half laughing half in pain.

Thankfully my knee only bruised a little and only hurt for 2 days but I sort of felt like I dodged a bullet. I wasn't wearing a helmet either. LOL. It was sort of a lesson to me that I should get some pads.

Having said that, I'm still back at it without pads yet. But only a little bit hear and there. I can't help myself. LOL. My daughter said she might get me some knee pads for Christmas so I'm kind of waiting to see. But I picked up a 20 dollar parts bike yesterday and of course I was trying to manual and do bunny hops on it yesterday. LOL.

I call it "bling city". I only needed a crank and pedals for my cheap project bike and these fit the bill. Plus I can use other parts if I want. The tubes hold air and it's got a cassette rim.... Etc etc.....

My other bike I'm going to name "BOU" Bike of Unknown Origin.


I hope to get good enough to break some stuff... I need a good set of bars though....

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11/18/2019 9:01 AM

Jibby wrote:

Most important part when your just starting out is just time on the bike and getting comfortable with how the bike feels.

Get yourself to your local pump track with your boy (he’ll love it and so will you) your bike control will come much quicker.

Welcome & Enjoy

Agree, pump tracks really sync your body up with your mind. The movements that you use to retain your speed will transfer over to other areas of your riding ability and you will quickly gain bike control.

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11/18/2019 9:06 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/18/2019 9:10 AM

Fortyseven wrote:

Actually, now that I have a chance I forgot what I was gonna say. Other than it's impressive that you can bunny hop that high already. My practice sessions are really short right now so my skill is not that good yet. I usually practice some hops after doing my nightly bike ride. When I get my bike put back together I want to practice in another part of the day so I'm not wore out from my ride. I've been battling lyme disease for like 10 years so I'm not in that good of shape. But it's been a lot of fun riding a bike this year and starting to do tricks.

I was always active growing up and even into my younger adult life before lyme disease. So I think I still have a bit of strength left from working out and being an athlete but I lost a lot of it. I went from 170 to 114 lbs at one point. Back to 140 now.

So be thankful for good health at 42 and yeah, I get the whole being concerned about getting hurt. I think the only advice I can give is just wear your pads and helmet and do your best. Everyone's path is different. Some of us get hurt, get disease and get put out of the game. And some don't. But one thing for sure, every day is a gift and wanting to live it at it's fullest is a good thing. We've seen a few people pass away around us who were our age and even younger from Cancer and what not. And it's like, live while you can. Sure, within reason cuz if you have kids relying on you to feed them, probably some wisdom should be exercised. But avoiding stuff cuz you MIGHT get hurt... well, that's not always the best way to go either. I guess you just have to figure out how far you want to push yourself. I won't be trying any flips on my bike anytime soon. LOL.

flyingfish wrote:

Thanks for the encouragement. A part of my head says to me I'm not ever going to fall or hurt myself...another part says its gonna happen...but I'm not stupid so I'm going to be as careful as I can be.... Will get some pads but it's not really my elbows shins and knees I'm worried about, more the sort of getting tangled up with the bike and smashing my face or landing on an outstretched arm and dislocating an elbow or shoulder or something. I hopped off a kerb yesterday and wobbled all over the place when I landed and felt like I nearly hit the tarmac so that sobered me up a bit

Fortyseven wrote:

About weeks ago after I picked up this end of the driveway BMX find I was wanting to see if the tires held air. Plus it's a good 3 pounds lighter than my cruiser so I thought I'd see if I can bunny hop on it higher. And then I wanted to try and manual or wheelie or both. Well, on one of my wheelie tries I was going a bit faster and the bike came all the way up and I had to put my feet on the ground. I was a bit sideways and my right foot stay planted and I went down on my left knee on my concrete drive. I laid there for a few minutes half laughing half in pain.

Thankfully my knee only bruised a little and only hurt for 2 days but I sort of felt like I dodged a bullet. I wasn't wearing a helmet either. LOL. It was sort of a lesson to me that I should get some pads.

Having said that, I'm still back at it without pads yet. But only a little bit hear and there. I can't help myself. LOL. My daughter said she might get me some knee pads for Christmas so I'm kind of waiting to see. But I picked up a 20 dollar parts bike yesterday and of course I was trying to manual and do bunny hops on it yesterday. LOL.

I call it "bling city". I only needed a crank and pedals for my cheap project bike and these fit the bill. Plus I can use other parts if I want. The tubes hold air and it's got a cassette rim.... Etc etc.....

My other bike I'm going to name "BOU" Bike of Unknown Origin.


I hope to get good enough to break some stuff... I need a good set of bars though....

Dont wait for pads. You will regret it if something goes wrong. Wearing pads is especially imperative when learning new things. Dont get me wrong, I have and do occasionally ride without protection but it is something that you need to constantly remind yourself, very important.

You are new to this and you really enjoy it, think about that and prioritize longevity over instant gratification of hopping on the bike when you feel like it.

Get a certified helmet too! Dont cheap out on the thing that you need to protect the most!

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11/18/2019 10:23 AM

Yeah. You are right. I'm trying to stick to just building my bike. It's so hard to not do stuff though. I did bunny hops on my cruiser last night. But at least I was wearing my helmet.

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11/18/2019 11:30 AM

Fortyseven wrote:

Yeah. You are right. I'm trying to stick to just building my bike. It's so hard to not do stuff though. I did bunny hops on my cruiser last night. But at least I was wearing my helmet.

I struggle with the same. Im still relatively new to the sport (going on 3 years) and I still have to fight myself to gear up. Its not smart of me and one of those days Im going to get hurt. There is nothing worse than getting hurt and knowing you could have prevented it by padding up. We are already putting ourselves at risk but there is nothing wrong with some extra help from some well-placed fabric/plastic/foam etc. Lol

I agree 100% with not limiting yourself. Many people I know think I am an absolute fool to have picked up a new high-risk sport in my late 20's and still continuing to do it in my early 30's. Those people will most likely never experience the sheer joy and absolute thrill of riding as we do. It's one of those things that I can't fault people for not trying (self-preservation is real) but I wouldn't hesitate to introduce the sport to anyone that is remotely interested!

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11/18/2019 12:43 PM

BigMeanPunk wrote:

If the helmet is certified and comfortable for you then it's good to go.

My helmet is a S1-Lifer. I like it because it has a small form factor and is dual certified. Also comes with extra liners (one size up and one size down) to really dial in the fitment.

As for my pads. I am using FUSE Delta knee pads and the FUSE whip shin pads with ankle protectors. I wear chinos to ride and they fit comfortably under..

Whatever gear you get make sure you do thier recommended measurements to see what sizes you need. One brand of knee pads, I was an L and another I was XXL!!

I forgot to say, you must be one stylin dude when you ride.....



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11/18/2019 9:26 PM

BigMeanPunk wrote:

If the helmet is certified and comfortable for you then it's good to go.

My helmet is a S1-Lifer. I like it because it has a small form factor and is dual certified. Also comes with extra liners (one size up and one size down) to really dial in the fitment.

As for my pads. I am using FUSE Delta knee pads and the FUSE whip shin pads with ankle protectors. I wear chinos to ride and they fit comfortably under..

Whatever gear you get make sure you do thier recommended measurements to see what sizes you need. One brand of knee pads, I was an L and another I was XXL!!

Fortyseven wrote:

I forgot to say, you must be one stylin dude when you ride.....



Here's me on my new ride I just built up. I set it up mainly for manuals but I might be able to squeeze a barspin out of her. Either way, the Nintendo Power glove has really allowed me to get a solid grip on this bike and my life in general.

Stylish and functional, just how I like my women!

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11/19/2019 10:39 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/19/2019 10:43 AM

LOL Actually, it's kind of funny you said that. My Mom's husband is super into biking and the last time I saw him he was saying how I should try to learn how to ride one of those. I think he said he did for a while. ( I called him my Mom's husband cuz she just got remarried last year and I don't really know him that well. She lives out of town and I've only met him like 4 times now. He's 88 years old and my Mom is only 69??? It's a bit of a head scratcher. But I can't bring myself to call him my Dad or Step Dad yet. Just feels odd) Felt like I had to explain. Now onto the regularly scheduled program.....

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