Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

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Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby longhotsummer » 2 Oct 2019, 7:04pm

Four years ago, I started a Thread with the almost identical title: Returning to the Saddle after 16 Years.

I didn't! I had just had my tourer serviced after 16 years in a shed and I wanted to get out again. There was a spate of awful weather and I just let it slide. Well, today was my second ride since 1999 and within 2 weeks. I am determined to resume the activity I used to love so much.

I started road cycling in 1992 in The Cotswolds and was soon doing 200 miles a week, including 1:5 and 1:4 hill climbs. Whilst cycling in Spain in Autumn 1999 on my road bike (courtesy of the CTC-backed coach operator that took cycles and recumbents across Europe in a curtainsider (is it still operating?)) I rode into a deep rut down the side of a drain in the road, was catapulted over the handlebars and skidded down the road on my teeth. I broke 3 teeth and a finger. I moved about 4 months later and both bikes were consigned to various stores and sheds.

Anyway, I am feeling very precarious on my Tourer and wonder if this is natural and may disappear. It was hard out, today. I did about 8 miles and managed 2 x 1:5 hills in the lowest of my 21 gears.

I have also bought a cycle trainer (Aldi has a cycling week in-stores) and plan to have my road bike serviced and use it indoors during the miserable weather.

I am hoping that some of you may like to share any similar experiences. It could be useful to read how other cyclists have coped with a return to road cycling after long absences.

Thanks! :-)

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby rbrian » 2 Oct 2019, 9:17pm

I had a couple of long breaks. I was very into mountain biking as a teenager, but I also thought that bikes should be used as transport to save the planet, not just for pleasure. Utility bikes just weren't cool though. At the age of 16, my best friend and I did a week long off road tour of the Lake District, and when we got back, we both were too tired to go on our regular ride the first week, and somehow never started again. I rode my mountain bike to work, but front suspension and knobbly tyres weren't ideal. I tried slicks, which made a big difference, but had no way to lock out the suspension. I pondered changing the forks, or buying a new bike, but I turned 17 and bought a car instead.

For the next decade or so I didn't ride a bike, but my environmental conscience reasserted itself, and in 2007 I sold my car, and my motorbike, and bought a Carrera Subway, which was a 26" wheel rigid mountain bike with road tyres. It was cheap, tough, comfy, and I even had a trailer for it. Then, a year or so later, my job changed, and instead of cycling 25 miles each way, or getting the bus which often didn't stop because it was full, I moved into the city. Everything was in walking distance, and it was a hassle lugging the bike up three flights of stairs, so I stopped again.

I moved again, this time 3 miles out of the city, and my work provided me with a van, so I drove again for a few years. Greta Thunberg shamed me, so this summer I decided to cycle again. After another decade off, and now 40 years old, it wasn't easy, but with perseverance and determination - and a photo of Greta on my phone screen, to shame me if I weakened - I got stronger, and my bum hasn't looked this good for years! The first week it took me 28 minutes to get to work, and 45 minutes back (up a hill). Within three weeks, I'd got those times down to 20 and 25 minutes.

I feel fine on the bike, no wobbles. Perhaps you should try adjusting your riding position? Maybe flat bars?
Cynic? No, an optimist tempered by experience.

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby peetee » 3 Oct 2019, 4:58pm

Best of luck to you. I too am in a similar position having only done occasional, very short rides over the past 10 years and only commuted a few miles a day for over 10 years before that.
I also have the over riding determination to avoid a recurrent knee injury that was always present in my 'golden years' so, tempting as it is to push myself I am taking it easy and enjoying the scenery on the way.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby eddysw » 4 Oct 2019, 8:15am

Have you considered an ebike? I used to commute by bike for years easily doing a daily 22 mile round trip. A house move made this a 50 mile round trip and the bike went to the back of the garage. I now commute most days mainly on an ebike. This has built up my fitness and I now also mix in both way commutes on a road bike. My ebike has suspension, very strong disk brakes and wide tyres. It is heavy but it doesn't matter. It feels so solid and comfy and inspires confidence. I also use it for various local trips instead of the car as its so easy to ride loaded up with shopping etc.. I personally find the best way to ride consistently is to work it into my daily life. The ebike has been key for me doing that and now I'm fit enough for the other riding I like to do from time to time like mtb with friends.

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby Oldjohnw » 4 Oct 2019, 8:58am

5 years ago I returned to the bike after 20 years apart from occasional trips. It coincided with my getting older, as adding 20 years does.

I struggled hugely. I live in North Northumberland which is hilly. So I added a motor to my now 18 year old steel Raleigh. Two years ago I would have used the complete battery to ride 30 miles in the hills. Yesterday I used less than half in cycling 46 miles.

So I lost weight (10kg), got fitter, get out several times a week, do the shopping so reduce massively car use. I have three or four camping trips a year of up to a week.

What's not to like? Good luck!

Cycling and recycling

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby Darkman » 6 Oct 2019, 7:49pm

Had to have our dog put down in March this year, got another dog soon after (dog lovers will understand what a house sans-dog feels like) - a whippet and he needs a LOT of walking. Started walking him early June once he'd been vaccinated and decided to overhaul our diet as well. Also got my old Diamondback out and did some repairs to that, then bought new bikes for each of us. Diamondback is full suspension and it was like being on a pogo stick - hated it.

Up to that point I'd barely ridden a bike in over 20 years.

Obviously the weather's turned to crap now so I'm not on the bike, but still walking the dog and still eating better.

In that time I've dropped from 147KG to 123KG as of last Monday. Still got a way to go, but it's going the right way.

Long term I'd like to get a road bike and be able to do some long rides for charity or something. Not quite up to LEJOG yet but in a few years, who knows?

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby peetee » 7 Oct 2019, 1:38pm

See my post above and to add to it, yesterday I did a ride with local club who made me feel very welcome. I had to decide which group would suit my pace and I plumped for the second slowest. The average speed was just right and the frequent hills had me breathing hard but keeping pace......for the first 15 miles or so. After that I was really just hanging on and by the end of the 26 mile ride I was dropped on the ascents. What kept me on the pedals was my total determination to never let a hill beat me.
Comparing my present form to what it used to be has been a very humbling experience but the ride has proven that I am blessed with enough determination and health to improve.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby Vorpal » 7 Oct 2019, 3:03pm

Increase your distance gradually. Frequent, short rides are more help than occasional long ones.

If you lack confidence cycling in traffic, try a Bikeability course, or pick up a copy of Cyclecraft

Good luck & enjoy the cycling :)
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Re: Returning to the Saddle after 20 Years!

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 25 Oct 2019, 2:16pm

You’ll find that your form returns fairly quickly, as long as you keep riding. The form will disappear just as quickly if you stop. You sound like they sort that would benefit from a smart turbo, an app ( like Zwift to keep you ticking over whilst the weather isn’t so good. Keep at it though, it either gets easier, or you get faster.