How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Fletten
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Location: Essex

Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Fletten » 25 Jun 2009, 7:29pm

I returned to cycling in 2007 after many years of becoming unfit and overweight, so at 65 I bought a new bike and started the long road to fitness.

During 2007 and 2008 I achieved reasonable fitness but this winter knocked me down, over Christmas I had a very bad chest infection, which took me weeks to recover from, so by the end of January I felt good and after some patient work on the exercise bike indoors, I thought I was ready but during my first ride of the year I dismounted awkwardly and twisted my ankle, it has taken 5 months to recover, I could not walk for the first month, it took 2 months to get a physio appointment. :(

Still today I went out for my first ride since January, all be it a short one but I will have to be patient.

I did not realise how much I had missed cycling, today’s ride has been a physiological step more than anything, as I began to think my ankle would not recover. :)

Jonty

Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Jonty » 27 Oct 2009, 10:16pm

I've been pretty active all my life and enjoyed swimming, climbing, squash, running, boxing, fly fishing and, in the last 12 years, cycling which I took up because of bad knees.
In my experience it's important to build up your fitness slowly, eat a balanced diet, get a good night's sleep, not overdo it but have rest days and, most importantly for women, do a mixture of heart and lung exercise like cycling (aerobic exercise) and resistance training using light weights (anerobic training).
I suggest you try and pick a ride without too many hills and build up your distance slowly and combine this with resistence training using light weights such as a pair of dumbells. Going on rides which you can't do will undermine your confidence. Do something you can do and build on that. Slowly.
jonty

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jhefner
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Re:

Postby jhefner » 28 Oct 2009, 2:02am

Lawrie9 wrote: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.


That has been my approach; I really don't have time to ride more than my current 6.3 miles a day.

The first time I got back on a bike was a stationary bike at a hotel back in June. I set the tension on 3, and could only just make 100 watts in about 15 minutes. I was really winded from doing so.

In August, I restored the Viscount Aerospace GP I owned when I was a teenager. I ride like I am in a time trial; when I first started out, my average was 5K (3 miles) a day at an average speed of about 14 MPH. I was easily winded after just a mile.

Now, I am averaging 6.3 miles, with an average speed of 16 MPH. Like others said, my tendency when I was young and even when I got back on this year was to pedal too slow, and with too high a gear. I found my "sweet spot" gear (52-21), to where my cadence is up to 81-83 RPM, but my speed is still at 16 MPH. It was a gear I rearly used before; now, I will use it and keep working my way up speed and cadence wise from there.

A couple of weekends ago, stayed at another hotel, and tried their stationary bike. Setting the tension on 6 felt close to riding my Viscount; and after riding for roughly the same period of time and distance, I averaged 246 watts. I wasn't as winded, either. That really opened my eyes to how much progress I made. My pot belly is almost gone, and I don't suffer from alergy/arthritis/breathing problems nearly as much any more.

My long range goal for now is 6-9 miles with an average speed of 19 MPH, and a cadence between 80 and 90. (Bicycle computers, even the ones that have a cadence pickup, are really not that expensive anymore, and can really help you in measuring your progress and cadence.) Bad weather can set my lungs back a little; but I just dig in, and build back up to where I was. Knowing that it is keeping my lungs and heart in shape is worth the trouble alone.

A possible alternative to the gym; especially when winter sets in; is to buy a fan trainer. They mount to the back wheel of your regular bike; and allow you to ride it like a stationary bike. The good ones in particular are not exactly cheap; but in addition to saving the cost of a stationary bike; they can usually be folded and put away when not in use.

(If you do purchase a bicycle computer, and plan to get a fan trainer, attach your speed pickup so it reads your rear wheel, and not your front. That way, you can use it when you riding it with a fan trainer as well.)

-James Hefner
Hebrews 10:20a

thekelticfringe
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby thekelticfringe » 31 Oct 2009, 8:32am

Hope this thread is still live cos I really wanted to offer my encouragement. Well done for taking the first steps and getting out there at all!

There's lots of good advice here, but I didn't notice anything about bike setup (Sorry if I missed it!!). It's pretty important that saddle height and handlebars are set up to fit you because this makes you much more efficient on the bike. Beginners often ride with the seat too low, which makes it much harder to cycle.

So here's a couple of quick checks:

Sit on the saddle - you should be able just to touch the ground with your toes, with both feet at once.
Sit on the saddle - Put the ball of one foot (not the instep) on the pedal and turn the cranks and pedals to the "6pm and Noon" position so your foot is as far down as it can go. You should be able to lock your knee by dropping your heel.

Everyone is a different shape so a good bike shop will usually be very happy to help you. My personal experience is that a local specialist has more knowledge and can spend a bit more time on this kind of thing than a chain store or supermarket.
Pedal faster, I hear banjos!

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Mick F
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Mick F » 31 Oct 2009, 8:43am

thekelticfringe wrote:Sit on the saddle - you should be able just to touch the ground with your toes, with both feet at once.

Not sure about that. There's absolutely no way that I can do that! One foot, yes. Both feet no.

thekelticfringe wrote:Everyone is a different shape so a good bike shop will usually be very happy to help you.

True! :D
Mick F. Cornwall

thekelticfringe
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby thekelticfringe » 31 Oct 2009, 8:49am

Mick F wrote:Not sure about that. There's absolutely no way that I can do that! One foot, yes. Both feet no.


Reach down with yer tippie toes :?>
Pedal faster, I hear banjos!

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Mick F
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Mick F » 31 Oct 2009, 9:12am

I'd fall off!

Lean against a wall/post/someone, and sit on the saddle with heels on the pedals. Rotate the cranks, and as the cranks go through the bottom of the stroke your legs should be fully extended. Whether your tippy toes can reach the ground at the same time or not must be a function of BB height and/or shoe size.
Mick F. Cornwall

thekelticfringe
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby thekelticfringe » 31 Oct 2009, 10:45am

bikely-challenged - Mick's suggestions are good too. The main point is that getting yr bike well set-up will make it easier for you, so if you need more advice I'd suggest cruising down to your LBS for a fitting. Just getting your saddle height right will make a big difference (and reduce the risk of knee pain longer term too). If you want to get geeky there are other variables they can help with too, to make you more comfortable and efficient - handlebars, length of stem, even crank lengths etc.
Pedal faster, I hear banjos!

Jonty

Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Jonty » 1 Nov 2009, 8:39pm

I suggest that the easiest way to explain it is that when the pedal is at its lowest point on the downstroke your knee should be slightly bent.
However this may mean that your cannot comfortably touch the ground with your toes whilst sitting on the saddle, or you can only touch the ground with both feet at once by stretching your feet like a ballet dancer standing on their toes.
I can't touch the ground comfortably with my toes whilst sitting on my bikes and neither can some of my cycling friends. When I come up to traffic lights or a road, I brake, stand off the saddle, stop and then stand astride the bike with my left foot on the ground. As far as I can see this is the normal technique used by experienced cyclists.
However this option may not be available to the less experienced cyclist or the cyclist having to negotiate heavy traffic. In these circumstances the cyclist may wish to be able to stop, keep sitting on the saddle and comfortably place the toes of both feet simultaneously on the ground, for reasons of safety and confidence.
This may mean that when the pedal is at its lowest point your knees may be more bent than would be optimal.
I wouldn't be concerned about it. The important considerations are safety and feeling confident and comfortable.
If you look at professional cyclists, such as those in the Tour de France or track cyclists, you will see that in many cases their legs are considerably bent at the knee when the pedal is at its lowest point on the downstroke.
Be safe, be confident, be comfortable.
jonty

Ribeye
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Ribeye » 4 Nov 2009, 5:56am

This is a great thread. Loads of confidence inspiring stuff in here for me too. I started cycling a couple of years ago for a little bit of exercise, and to get to uni and back, after a niggling ankle injury put me off running for good. I didn't really start to take it seriously until the end of last year, when I started to go out for longer rides, and decided to order a road bike. Unfortunately, I then got a hernia, which stopped me cycling. After the surgery, getting back on the bike has been pretty slow. I've gained a couple of stone, my fitness is thoroughly shot, and I'm still in pain after most rides for a couple of days, but I'm still enjoying my cycling. For me, how fast I'm going, if I can make it all the way up a hill or not, I'm not going to spend too much time worrying about that sort of stuff.

I found that hills got much easier once I got my seat position right, and started to use my gears properly. Early on, I had my saddle too low, and climbed hills by standing up and mashing down on the pedals in too high a gear. Things got much easier once my seatpost was high enough, and I learned to stay sitting down and spin lower gears.

It's great that this forum isn't all about racing snakes with heart rate monitors telling you a good average speed over 50 miles is 20mph. That sort of stuff can easily put people off.

timddeb
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Joined: 4 Nov 2009, 9:42am

Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby timddeb » 4 Nov 2009, 9:57am

So how is it going? I got back on a bike a few years ago and was like you. I then had an operation to take a kidney out, but the biking had made me so fit I was back on the bike 48hrs after the operation. (albeit carefully, it was less painfull than walking)
Nowadays a double century doesn't seem such a big deal, and I can't remember the last time I used the Granny ring.
I did learn two things though. 1/ Think about how much effort goes into moving the bike. Fit road tyres, they take a lot less effort. Suspension? Every time it goes up or down it takes effort away from going forward.
2/ This time of year, if you are huffing and puffing hard the air temperature is sucking heat out of your body. Think about this. I prefer to do the high exertion stuff when the air temp is over 10 c. Mind you that is less often now.

Jonty

Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby Jonty » 4 Nov 2009, 12:43pm

I'm asthmatic and I take an inhaler twice daily. My lung function reaches into the bottom of the normal range. I can ride 40 miles without too much difficulty but it can hurt on the hills as my ability to take in air and expel it is below average for my age, gender and height.
I have always pushed myself however but I need that granny gear to get up the hills. I'm a great believer in doing a variety of things. Cycling is a great activity but it won't do a lot for building strong bones and upper body strength. These days I also swim, walk, dig the allotment and weight train with light to moderate weights twice a week as well as my weekly ride.
jonty

worrywort
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby worrywort » 6 Nov 2009, 7:34am

My bike's got 3 speeds. sitting standing and pushing All the time you're moving, your'e getting fitter. take heart, keep on moving.

canardly
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Joined: 31 Jul 2010, 1:20pm

Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby canardly » 30 Oct 2010, 9:28pm

When you start missing being on a bike due to domestic circumstances you are well on the way to where you want to be.

spanner
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Re: How to get Fit on a Bicycle?

Postby spanner » 1 Jun 2011, 10:20pm

i do a lot of cycling but when i first joined the vcc found i really struggled on runs and someone told me to get my stamina level up that that would help basically you cycle up a steep hill until it feels like your heart and lungs are going to burst out your chest i did this and the next run i did was a lot easier
ive been a member for 10 years now and we do runs of 28 - 35 miles with a lunch stop of course!
you could always get a turbo trainer and use that when the weather doesnt let you get out to cycle this would also be a good way of building up your fitness as well