How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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bikely-challenged
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Postby bikely-challenged » 14 Sep 2008, 10:55pm

Didn't expect so many replies, thank you all who took the time. I'm much less discouraged now. Had a bad ride today and was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I wrote that post :roll:

I have a comfort type hybrid. I'm mostly using it on forestry land. They are called cycle paths, but are rather pot holed and surfaced with loose rocks. Probably not a great idea to begin on them, but that's what we have round here.

The roads here are twisty single track with passing places and the surface is better but I haven't ventured very far on them yet. The drivers tend to be quite fast round the bends and I'm a bit of a wuss. And slightly wobbly. After driving a car for the last 22 years I'm acutely aware of my physical vulnerability on a bike.

You're right - I'm thinking too much, especially about all the negative aspects.:oops:

I do have a granny ring and use it for the hills but can only get so far up before I'm gasping for air and legs burning.

Thanks again for your replies, very encouraging to see that others felt the same way when they started and have battled on regardless. I'd never have guessed that Manx only started this in September, after reading about her recent C2C trip!

Well done to all those who've improved so much and I hope to follow in your footsteps!
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DISCLAIMER: The above constitutes my personal opinion only on any given subject. Other opinions are available.

kwackers
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Postby kwackers » 15 Sep 2008, 9:00am

Some final thoughts - be aware that peddling is an art. It's not quite as simple as pressing on each peddle, done properly it's much more efficient...

This might sound obvious, but make sure you're not pressing with both feet! This can happen especially when you're tired (happens to me and I've been cycling on and off forever), if you're struggling make sure the up going leg feels light on the peddles otherwise they end up fighting each other.

Also, don't peddle too slowly, a faster cadence requires less Arny type muscles in your legs since you can apply smaller amounts of power but more frequently. Eventually you'll find a cadence that suits you.

james01
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Postby james01 » 15 Sep 2008, 9:33am

A common error among returnees to cycling is to use the gears as in a car, changing up to top gear as quickly as possible after pulling away. Cycling is almost the opposite, you should stay in as low a gear as you feel comfortable with, using top only when you're bowling along easily.
As an experienced middle-aged cyclist, my worst enemy is the complacency which comes from settling into a slightly too easy pace - I don't push myself. I then get a shock when I occasionally ride with somebody fitter than me & end up gasping! The moral is to keep pushing yourself a little, but not so much that it spoils the fun.

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Dean
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Postby Dean » 15 Sep 2008, 10:37am

As others have said, persist and you'll get better.

I like the word "feartie", by the way :D - I hadn't heard that before.

2Tubs
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby 2Tubs » 15 Sep 2008, 12:21pm

bikely-challenged wrote:Hello, hope you can help!

Had my bike for a month now and it's really shown up my lack of fitness. I live in quite a hilly area and I'm having to get off and walk numerous times each ride. So far I've only had one or two rides a week as I'm not really enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

My lungs and legs are both giving up on me on these hills. I'm not even cycling long enough to get a sore derrière.

I know this sounds really lame, but I have no idea whether I should just carry on and hope to improve or should I be following a plan or programme of some kind?

Also, I don't have much confidence in my ability to control the bike, which doesn't help. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I was never this feartie as a kid!

When I returned to cycling back in 2000, I used to cycle 3 mils to work.

And I'd have to stop half way for a rest on what I thought was a hill (actually a very gentle incline).

Since then I've cycled e2e and c2c. I've regularly cycled a 26 mile commute without having to stop.

But my technique improved, and I think your problems lie more in this area rather than being unfit. If you can walk 10 miles, you can cycle 30, you just need to improve your technique.

Build cycling into your routine. Cycle to the shops, your mates, the pub (that last one might cause a whole other row but . . .)

Look up a Bikeability instructor and just keep cycling, the more you cycle, the fitter you'll get and the better yuor technique will become.

But don't give up. You'll regret it and with a bit of training and/or experience you'll be there in a matter of weeks.

Gazza
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jawaka
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Postby jawaka » 15 Sep 2008, 12:47pm

what made a difference for me when i started wasfinding that a higher cadence(rate of turning the pedals) of about 80/min was better (more efficient and easier) than the seemingly natural rate of 60/min; you are then going to be more pedalling smoothly in a circle rather than pushing down on each stroke which is tiring. also drop straight to the lowest gear early, don't wait until you are struggling in a higher gear and after that adjust back to a comfortable cadence i.e. don't change down to low gear and then spin the pedals at 100 plus/min settle back to around 80/min. these cadence rates aren't set in stone you will find what suits you best, but they are a guide and help you to find the most efficient way to pedal
psychology is important too, and go at your own comfortable pace and never mind that others seem faster or are overtaking you

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Beakyboy
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Postby Beakyboy » 15 Sep 2008, 4:13pm

I agree with what the others have said, however don't keep going at it regardless, do it only when you want to. You must enjoy it, if you don't you will see it more of a chore and be less likely to continue.

My cycling buddy started cycling 3 years ago and was really unfit, he could barely do 2 miles and had to get off on even the little hills, he stuck at it and last year completed a sponsored 60 mile cycle.
May the wind always be at your rear!

Michael R
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Postby Michael R » 15 Sep 2008, 4:47pm

I gave up cycling in 1994 due to neck problems but did a lot of mountainwalking - including the Grand Canyon in a day at age of 54.

In 2001 at 55 I put butterfly bars on the bike and restarted., and in summer 2002 seriously. Living in Lancashire hills defeated me .

Bought a Dawes 601 in August 2003 and the following August did 100 miles. Wrynose in 2005 and Pas de Peyrol in the Auvergne this summer


Now at 62 regard 50+ miles as normal.

The secret is little and often but gently pushing ones self. Take inot account age and general fitness and build up from there.

Always keep a weekly record of mileage and have a target of so many miles a week throughout the year

Lawrie9
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Postby Lawrie9 » 16 Sep 2008, 1:01pm

Doing time trialling or your own timed flat out rides will send your fitness into the stratosphere. Also lots of severe hill riding will give you incredible strength and stamina.

Valetillidye

Postby Valetillidye » 16 Sep 2008, 1:03pm

i was an avid gym go-er until about 5 years ago when serious girlfriend, engage-ment, marriage and then baby meant that it had to get knocked on the head. Over the next 4 years I gained 3 stone in weight and ended up horrendously unfit !

I tried the gym again but struggled to get there as often as I liked so I got my 1st bike last August, A Scott Hybrid for abot 300 quid, nothing fancy.

I hadn't cycled for about 20 years and was like Bambi on Ice the 1st few times, it terrified me ! The 1st few times I went out I did about 3 miles each time and it absolutely killed me. The 1st mile of my ride is a quite steep hill and I was stopping 3 or 4 times evry time I went up it. My backside killed for days as well.

My advice is persevere ! I went from stopping 3 - 4 times, to once, to not at all. After a few weeks my backsize became used to the saddle and now never gets sore at all.

I haven't dropped as much weight as I would have liked (only about a stone) but now do 4 -5 rides a week of 12 miles plus and have turned into a bit of a cycling junkie !

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bikely-challenged
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Postby bikely-challenged » 16 Sep 2008, 3:04pm

Bambi on ice is a pretty good description of how I feel, too. Not so cute though!

Thanks all for the good wishes and advice. Some very good tips here. :D
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DISCLAIMER: The above constitutes my personal opinion only on any given subject. Other opinions are available.

spinner_43
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Cycling fitness

Postby spinner_43 » 16 Sep 2008, 5:37pm

Dear 'Mr. bikely-challenged'
Me too, mate!! Your post is pretty well what I would have written myself.
But it's prompted some great help and encouragement, so I might just keep going at it. ... if the weather would just buck up and let me get out on the bike (I'm not yet confident in the rain, and wearing glasses doesn't help).

I have found that trying to maintain a steady cadence on a hill ( just counting 1-2-3-4 to myself) seems to help a little. That, and not looking up the hill to see how far off it is. I try to look just a little way in front (watching for pot-holes, glass, cats, parked vehicles, people stepping out from between same, of course. And then, when I do look up - Presto! - I'm halfway up. And it's just got steeper....

Didn't like the local gym very much, so joined out and used the money to buy a bike- much wiser choice.

Regards, and thanks to all who've contributed to this topic,
Alan

mick skinner
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Postby mick skinner » 16 Sep 2008, 5:56pm

UrbanManc; you're right about zero fitness levels, i suffered like this for a long time, one solution i found was a curcuit about two miles round, starting off doing three or four laps then adding a lap to the routine when i feel up to it, before i knew it i was bored of doing the laps and going further afield. i also agree with kwackers, gym work is as boring as ****

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bikely-challenged
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Re: Cycling fitness

Postby bikely-challenged » 16 Sep 2008, 6:42pm

spinner_43 wrote:Dear 'Mr. bikely-challenged'
Me too, mate!! Your post is pretty well what I would have written myself.
But it's prompted some great help and encouragement, so I might just keep going at it. ... if the weather would just buck up and let me get out on the bike (I'm not yet confident in the rain, and wearing glasses doesn't help).



That's one of the great things about t'internet. Lots of floundering and discouraged noobs will be reading this and getting fresh resolve to continue, although they might not post.

I'll try your counting technique.

PS
Not that it matters, but I'm Mrs Bikely-challenged! :)
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DISCLAIMER: The above constitutes my personal opinion only on any given subject. Other opinions are available.

Dee Jay
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Re: Cycling fitness

Postby Dee Jay » 16 Sep 2008, 6:50pm

[quote="bikely-challenged]That's one of the great things about t'internet. Lots of floundering and discouraged noobs will be reading this and getting fresh resolve to continue, although they might not post.

Indeed! This forum is one of the things which has really kept me trying for longer and better rides!
I'll try your counting technique.

PS
Not that it matters, but I'm Mrs Bikely-challenged! :)

Funnily enough .... I thought you were a bloke until your use of the word 'cute'!

Don't forget to come over to The Tea Shop to talk about glamour on bike if you fancy a change from fitness and technique??

http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?p=131771#131771


[/quote]
Dee