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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-07-05, 11:22 PM   #1
Orthie
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Recovering after long commute

My commute is 12.5 miles each way, mostly flat. It takes me about 1 hour each way at my current (slow) speed. I am 5' 11" and currently 259 lbs, down from a high of 273 lbs last year. I have tried to commute to work 2 - 3 times per week with varied success this past year. I have started commuting again, but find that my body gets tired if I try to do it both ways in consecutive days. Ideally, I would like to be able to ride both ways 4 days per week, and also ride on the weekends.

I usually ride at around 70% max HR, so these rides should qualify as endurance rides. Every now and then, I try to go harder for several portions of the rides, especially the short climbs I have.

Is there any way to improve recovery? Is it just a matter of time and all I have to do is persevere? I am currently riding one way on the bike and taking the train the other way, to see if I can avoid overtiring myself in order to increase the frecuency of my commute by bike.

I appreciate and advise on this subject,

Orthie
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Old 09-07-05, 11:43 PM   #2
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Slow down, it's too fast for your condition. You can add speed later. It usually takes about 500 miles before you get in fair condition. Don't go more than 3 days without riding or you'll keep on starting over again and again.
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Old 09-07-05, 11:44 PM   #3
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start out slow. the worse thing to do is burn yourself out and quit cycling all together. Try driving halfway and biking the rest of the way and vice versa. You'll still get 12 miles. Then as your muscles begin to adapt to your routine begin to drive less and ride more until you ride both ways. Also, eating right really makes a difference. Start out with some complex carbs with some sugars like wheat toast with peanut butter and jelly before you ride. After the commute recover by getting a healthy protein shake and bar. Again, just take it slow. Throw in a rest day if you don't really feel like riding. You'll be stronger for the next time you commute.

good luck
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Old 09-07-05, 11:59 PM   #4
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Easting right does make 80% of the difference - change your diet - dump the soda - drink lots of water, and make sure you eat about 6 times a day.
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Old 09-08-05, 12:12 AM   #5
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My commute was 26 miles. I use recovery drinks upon getting to work..and something like a banana. maybe somewhat later a diet coke..And I am just fine..In fact more energy then when I not commute.
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Old 09-08-05, 12:51 AM   #6
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Taking the train back is fine, when I started riding again a few months ago it was very nice to ride 10 mi. or so and sit exhausted in a coffee shop then take the train back. Take it easy on yourself and let time do its trick, pretty soon you'll laugh off 50 mile days which are not uncommon with me these days.
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Old 09-08-05, 01:20 AM   #7
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I ride a 45 mile commute (total), 2-3 days a week. Two of my days are consecutive, and sometimes it is just too much. I just rest up, and eat right. Don't push too hard or you may injure yourself. Your body will get leaner, and your endurance will go up over time. Don't worry. Just do what feels good for now and your body will let you know when you can do more.
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Old 09-08-05, 02:16 AM   #8
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Is your bike setup for a long fast commute? I hope you are not doing this on an MTB with knobblies!
Doing one-way rides is a sensible way to start. It takes perhaps 3 months of regular riding before your body becomes accustomed to the stress so dont overdo the distance or work-rate to start with.
Make sure you do a cool down at the end of the ride. For the last 5mins, ease down and roll along and try some stretching on the bike.
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Old 09-08-05, 03:33 AM   #9
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Right bike. Not mountain something comfortable, like Hybrid. Eat well but the right things, not too much sugar etc. You will be amazed how you get used to it over time. I do 9 miles each way and it does not knock a feather out of me. But when I started it was hard work by Thursday night I used to collapse into the chair. But now no problem. I use SPD clips and it takes me about 45 mins, I do not kill myself. Most important is to take it at a good pace. I am regularily passed on my way into town by speedies, but they are only doing say 3 miles or so.
Have patience and you will get there. It just takes a few miles to get into the swing of things.Don't give yourself a sickener with it. The distance is definitely doeable on a regular basis you just need to build up to it. After a while you will be very surprised. Lastly take a break for at least one day at the weekend. If you commute all week and go out on sat/Sun and also do miles with your friends then you will get very tired.
Hope this is of some help.
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Old 09-08-05, 05:49 AM   #10
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Definitely eat something good and starchy right after your rides, e.g. pasta al dente (don't overcook!). You need to replenish your muscles as soon as possible for proper recovery. If real food isn't an option then a recovery drink (e.g. Endurox, IIRC) should do the job.
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Old 09-08-05, 08:19 AM   #11
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In my opinion there is no substitute for miles. Once you get over 500-600 cumulative miles you will be surprized at what you can do.
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Old 09-08-05, 08:45 AM   #12
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Orthie, I second the advice posted above. I started the daily 12 mi. commute each way at the beginning of March and have been building up and shedding pounds slowly since then. Like you my commute is fairly flat (an rail trail with gentle grades) so it has allowed me to slowly improve.

1) Take your time and ride a little slower as you start. Despite being counterintuitive it will actually help you build up more quickly.

2) Remember to vary your riding effort. Do one day hard then do a more casual recovery ride the next day. At first I was dubious that it would help, but after hitting a plateau in my own riding I tried it and it really helped.

3) Eating a good breakfast is important. Something with complex carbs like oatmeal, granola, bagels, etc. along with fruit are good choices. Sugary cereals aren't as good -- on a few occasions I joined my son for a bowl and found that by mid-morning I was starving. I've also started to eat a banana or other fruit when I get to the office. I find it helps with recovery.

4) If you're aiming to lose weight, light healthy snacks during the day will help stave off major hunger pangs. Fruit, nuts, etc. are good and provide nutritional value as well as energy.

5) Try and work on your riding position and pedalling style as you progress. Make sure your bike setup distributes your weight properly and allows for efficient pedalling. I think you will find that you have to change seat and possibly bar height or position as you make progress. Also make sure you are pedalling efficiently, pushing the pedal around and not just stepping down. And of course don't mash high gears -- shifting down will save your knees and generally improve your speed.

Keep it up and after you've put some miles behind you things will showed marked improvement.
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Old 09-08-05, 08:56 AM   #13
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Try riding a little slower to work and take it nice and easy on the way home. HR should be bet. 60-70% so try for 65% on the way to work. Don't forget to enjoy the view and the fresh air. While you may be commuting to lose some weight and get in shape, don't feel you have to do it in a week. And don't forget to drink lots of water.

The average person sweats out bet. 1 - 1.2 quarts of fluid per hour so be sure to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes with both water and a sports drink, typically one w/ a 4:1 carb to protein ratio. The sports drink helps your body absorb fluid faster and replaces electrolytes. Don't wait to get to work to replace the fluids, but drink from your squeezies every 10-15 mins. I usually mix water and whatever-ade together in my squeezies.

As for breakfast, try to eat as soon as you get up. Oatmeal's a good breakfast both for the carbs and it's good for your heart.
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Old 09-08-05, 09:11 AM   #14
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Forgot to mention, don't skimp on protein while you are building muscles. You'll hurt too much.
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Old 09-08-05, 09:37 AM   #15
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My $.02 - a few different takes then what most others have said. FWIW, I'm down to 240 lb's from 252 10 weeks ago. I also have an hour commute each way that I do on Tu & Th. Here's my advice:
1) Don't ride consecutive days until you work up to it. Start going Tu - Th, (or M-W, W-F) then start adding rides before and after work on your non-commuting days. Eventually, work up to 12 mi before work and 12 after work on a non-commuting day and then you can confidently start commuting an extra day. Commute M-W-F, then add more miles on a non commuting day until you can do 4 days (M-Tu, Th-F).
2) Cadence, cadence, cadence. Ride 90-100 rpm's at all times. This will have 2 beneifts, it will reduce the use of your big muscles (which take 48 hrs to recover) and make you a more efficient (faster) cyclist.
3) This sounds stupid but...listen to your body. I get up at 4:30 am am on my bike at 5:20 or so. I do NOT eat breakfast prior to my ride. I do drink a big glass of water and a cup of java but that's it. I get to the office, stretch, shower and dress, usually as I'm dressing I finally get hungry and eat. (Usually oatmeal and a piece of fruit.) You start to think of your body as a big engine and you want to fuel it properly. Eat small frequent meals. I can eat a big lunch at noon, ride home at 4 and I actually bonk. I have to eat something an hour or so before my ride home.
4) Keep at it! It sounds like you've already made a lot of progress

Goodluck.
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Old 09-08-05, 11:31 AM   #16
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Recovery and miles is the key. I agree with JohnnyCool. Sounds so far like I'm the "biggest" one here at 270. I still pack a lot of muscle on my 5'7 frame, just gained a bunch of flab using chocolate to quit smoking a couple of years ago, but it's still a lot to haul on a bike.

Ride every other day for now one way and get plenty of rest. Once you get stronger, take one of those days and get a two way in, then another until you are strong enough.

I normally get 2-3 commutes a week in and longer 20-50 mile rides on the weekend. Don't be in a hurry, enjoy the ride.
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Old 09-08-05, 01:02 PM   #17
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My advice?

70% of Max HR should be your upper limit, not your average. Resist the temptation to push harder!.

In addition, if consecutive days make you tired, then go alternate days.
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Old 09-10-05, 09:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by LivingStrong
Recovery and miles is the key. I agree with JohnnyCool. Sounds so far like I'm the "biggest" one here at 270. I still pack a lot of muscle on my 5'7 frame, just gained a bunch of flab using chocolate to quit smoking a couple of years ago, but it's still a lot to haul on a bike.

Ride every other day for now one way and get plenty of rest. Once you get stronger, take one of those days and get a two way in, then another until you are strong enough.

I normally get 2-3 commutes a week in and longer 20-50 mile rides on the weekend. Don't be in a hurry, enjoy the ride.
Thank you all for the excellent advice. I think it is all very sensible and will start following it on a more organized manner.
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