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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 07-31-06, 08:17 AM   #1
sbhikes
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I'm falling apart

My latest stint at bike commuting started about 2.5 years ago or so. I've been riding steadily since. I started out riding 2 times a week, then 3, now 5. But now I'm falling apart. I'm 41 years old and female if that matters, and my commute is 8.5 miles each way.

My legs ache all the time. I've injured one of them (hyperextended my hamstring) and it won't get better. And I'm gaining weight -- mostly fat. My clothes don't fit and I look/feel awful.

I think I need to take a break but I don't want to. Has this happened to anybody besides me?
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Old 07-31-06, 08:19 AM   #2
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The only way to gain weight is by eating too much.

Some good stretching will cure most of your leg problems. Just make sure you learn how to do it properly.

Also you may be well advise to get some nutrition advice. Often the right things to do are staring us in the face, and we don't see them till someone tell us they are there.
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Old 07-31-06, 08:28 AM   #3
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Sounds like no fun! Hamstrings take a while to heal, and they are easy to reinjure if you push it too early. Maybe you should go to a doctor. I don't know anything, but maybe it's a thyroid issue? Or maybe you just need to go to Paris for a little vacation (always works for me).
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Old 07-31-06, 08:33 AM   #4
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Yes, I am a 51 year old female and it has happened to me. Two things, one you may need to take a couple of days off ( or a little longer) because you may be burned out. Read some magazines, books, etc. After a while you the desire returns. Secondly, you are going to have to cross train, specifically, go to the gym. Bike riding is great for the quads but the hamstrings have to be worked out in another excerise like in the gym. This has worked for me.





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Old 07-31-06, 08:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
My legs ache all the time.
Are you spinning or mashing? *All* my leg problems went away--including a knee problem that required surgery for all other males in my family--when I raised my cadence to the 90-95 range. I'm also down to one rest day per week and have been able to double the length of my recreational/training rides. Amazing stuff that spinning.

Out of curiousity, is this on a 'bent or a DF?
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Old 07-31-06, 08:41 AM   #6
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Capejohn and velogirl are right that you might want to check out the advice of a nutritionist, and maybe an endocrinologist. Metabolism can change over our years, but if you're still riding 17 miles a day and gaining weight (as fat) you might have an underlying issue that needs checked out. A nutritionist can help you with a dietary analysis and determine if you have too high a level of fats in your diet based on the calories that you're burning on the ride. They can probably recommend you to an endocrinologist, who will check things like thyroid activity and make sure that there's not a hormonal issue that's causing your problems.
As for the legs; make sure that you stretch out before and after riding to keep limber. Maybe use a little Icy Hot or Mineral Ice on cooler days that you commute, to loosen your legs up a little bit extra and help keep them warmer. Don't push too hard until things are fully recovered, or else you risk making your injuries worse, or not having them heal correctly.
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Old 07-31-06, 08:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
I think I need to take a break but I don't want to. Has this happened to anybody besides me?
Hasn't happened to me personally, but my 24-year-old girlfriend had serious knee and leg pain after starting to commute 5 days a week, 5 miles each way. She's gotten better by learning to use lower gears and not let her legs flop around much, but most importantly she stretches A LOT. She stretches for a couple minutes before and after each ride, and now she says she's fine.
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Old 07-31-06, 08:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
My latest stint at bike commuting started about 2.5 years ago or so. I've been riding steadily since. I started out riding 2 times a week, then 3, now 5. But now I'm falling apart. I'm 41 years old and female if that matters, and my commute is 8.5 miles each way.

My legs ache all the time. I've injured one of them (hyperextended my hamstring) and it won't get better. And I'm gaining weight -- mostly fat. My clothes don't fit and I look/feel awful.

I think I need to take a break but I don't want to. Has this happened to anybody besides me?
Yes. I think you might have overextended yourself. A little rest and recovery (and let that hamstring heal) and you'll be fine again. Maybe all you need is to alternate riding days and rest days, or even alternate "easy spin" days. Bottom line, you should allow your body to recover itself.

Once, I rode myself into the ground, so to speak. I ended up taking 6 weeks off the bike to recover! It doesn't have anything to do with how much, how far, or how fast you ride. It has more to do with "stretching your limits." Stretching you limits is what makes you improve, but too much of that combined with too little recovery and you can find yourself losing ground.

What sometimes happens is that we feel tired, but once we get on the bike, the adrenaline and other hormones lift us up again, so we feel great. Then we get tired again, but once on the bike, we feel good again. We repeat the proceess until we overextend ourselves before we realize it.

Of course, if you think there is a medical issue, see your doc.

Get some rest.
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Old 07-31-06, 10:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
What sometimes happens is that we feel tired, but once we get on the bike, the adrenaline and other hormones lift us up again, so we feel great. Then we get tired again, but once on the bike, we feel good again. We repeat the proceess until we overextend ourselves before we realize it.
That sounds familiar.

Anyway, I hurt my leg on one of my recumbents. Recumbents use your hamstrings more than regular bikes. My trike is just a little too long for me and I need to cut off more from the boom to shorten it. So, I haven't been riding it much in order to heal. But the other day I rode it any hurt it all over again. Stupid me.

But I guess I've just been not resting enough because I get sore after all activity, such as when I go hiking. I used to never get sore. I'm in a constant state of sore after everything that I do. Which is why I feel like I'm falling apart.

And then to top it off, I think I hit that magic age where your metabolism simply slows down (and your eyesight goes and you have to buy those glasses from the drugstore and all that good fun--more reasons to feel like I'm falling apart). I've heard it happens. I'm trying to adjust to my new body but I am not happy because I only got to spend a short amount of my life as a non-fat person.
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Old 07-31-06, 10:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
Metabolism can change over our years, but if you're still riding 17 miles a day and gaining weight (as fat) you might have an underlying issue that needs checked out. ... They can probably recommend you to an endocrinologist, who will check things like thyroid activity and make sure that there's not a hormonal issue that's causing your problems.
I was going to suggest you check this out, hormonal imbalances can lead to unexplained weight gain/loss, and could be a sign of a more serious problem; probably nothing serious but worth gettting checked out.

Has your mood changed? Has your sleep schedule changed?

My own personal barrometer is that after four months of hard commuting, and utilitarian cycling I start to get cuts and scrapes that won't heal. Usually all I need to do is take a day off from my normal schedule and eat uber-healthy for a couple of weeks.
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Old 07-31-06, 10:35 AM   #11
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My own personal barrometer is that after four months of hard commuting, and utilitarian cycling I start to get cuts and scrapes that won't heal. Usually all I need to do is take a day off from my normal schedule and eat uber-healthy for a couple of weeks.

Even eating healthy, I still find that my cuts and scrapes don't heal as quickly as I'd like. I do a bit of rockclimbing, and tend to get a little banged up while out at the crags. I've got (what I thought was) a minor scrape on my shin that just refuses to go away, even with Neosporin, etc. it still looks like it's going to scar up a little bit.
Anyone else have this issue? Should I just chalk it up to the fact that I'm not 19 any more?
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Old 07-31-06, 01:31 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
Anyway, I hurt my leg on one of my recumbents. Recumbents use your hamstrings more than regular bikes. My trike is just a little too long for me and I need to cut off more from the boom to shorten it. So, I haven't been riding it much in order to heal. But the other day I rode it any hurt it all over again. Stupid me.
Your seat's not adjustable on the trike? Seems making an adjustable mounting wouldn't be too tough.

Sounds like you could use some strength-training in gym? Build up the muscles and ligaments will help prevent injuries. The higher strength will also have the muscles not be loaded as much on your commute and you won't have the constant aches & pains.
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Old 07-31-06, 01:52 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mothra
Your seat's not adjustable on the trike? Seems making an adjustable mounting wouldn't be too tough.

Sounds like you could use some strength-training in gym? Build up the muscles and ligaments will help prevent injuries. The higher strength will also have the muscles not be loaded as much on your commute and you won't have the constant aches & pains.
The trike adjusts its size by the forward/backward movement of the boom, which holds the bottom bracket assembly. The Catrike seat is part of the frame.

I think I'll just try to rest. Maybe I should switch to taking the bus. A nice walk to the bus stop and from the drop-off point to my office might be better than the bike riding for a while. Too bad it costs so much more money than riding a bike. I'm not much of a gym person. Why pay for exercise and then do it inside when you can do it outside for free in the fresh air.
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Old 07-31-06, 01:56 PM   #14
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I've been irresponsible in not excercising the other parts of my body since about the beginning of the year. Just gave it up, got tired of doing it, wanted to bike all the time. Now my quads are freakishly huge, but the rest of me is jelly-like and I started feeling fat and tight and sore. I started doing pilates, yoga and upper body work again last week and I'm starting to feel a little better - more elongated, balanced, stretched, relaxed. I tried out a variety of pilates & yoga DVDs through Netflix, then bought the ones that worked for me - Netflix has a pretty good selection of fitness DVDs, and if you're already a subscriber, it's worth a shot.
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Old 07-31-06, 03:24 PM   #15
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Get a massage. A good therapist should be able to help you with your hamstring and all your leg issues.

Luckily, since you're on a 'bent, you shouldn't really have psoas issues...
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Old 07-31-06, 03:47 PM   #16
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I have psoas issues, are they bike related? Just yesterday and today got some great spasming. Had not biked since Friday. No real effect on today's commute, fortunately.
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Old 07-31-06, 03:51 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
I'm not much of a gym person. Why pay for exercise and then do it inside when you can do it outside for free in the fresh air.
Agreed. I hate exercise that doesn't involve going somewhere or accomplishing a task (and that task cannot be "getting exercise"). I had to force myself to do exercise DVDs. I kind of enjoy them now, especially the ones that involve light strength training with dumbbells. But you'll never see me doing the same exercises inside a $40/month gym.
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Old 07-31-06, 04:31 PM   #18
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^Those ALL sound like good suggestions to me... Pain is the bodies way of saying YO! Iím talkiní to you!

I don't like gyms very much for myself, though they can be very helpful for some folks, a person definitely doesn't need to go to a gym to do light weight training. Be sure to find a source (book, dvd, etc...) that discusses proper form (including for stretching) and like anything else, not too much too soon.

Before I found riding I was lifting weights at home, doing yoga, pilates and running mostly.
To my demise, when I started riding, all that went out the window and all I was doing was riding
and my bod put on the brakes...

I am currently recouping from an overtraining injury My physical therapist thinks I will benefit
greatly from a regular stretching routine and working with weights again a few times a week.

Iíd suggest a little bit of rest time, doesnít have to be a long time... start with one day
and stretching.... = fountain of youth
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Old 07-31-06, 04:54 PM   #19
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What is psoas?

I like the massage idea. The lady downstairs does massage.
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Old 07-31-06, 05:13 PM   #20
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Diane,
I am not a medical expert nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Ex last night (tho I wish I had ) However having a sister, mother, MIL and wife and given your "youth" I strongly suspect you maybe undergoing the natural hormonal imbalance that occurs about this time of life I think the advice to talk to your doctor is good as well as the possiblity of taking a "standdown" on cycling. Not give it up but cut back. I have ridding hard for days on end touring, and down days were a major necessity. It may be you are hitting your physical limits and need to back down and give the body a chance to recover. Seems to happen a bit more slowly as the years pile up.

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Old 07-31-06, 05:50 PM   #21
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Diane,
Just a few weeks ago my mom told one of her coworkers that she must have hit that "magic age" (not necessarily menopause, just the one where your metabolism, blood pressure, eyesight and a host of other things just go out the window) and I even know the farsightedness problem hits men equally as spontaneously (my uncle just woke up one day and had to wear them, almost literally) so its not too surprising.

my quads hurt like hell when I switched to clipless, and the only solution was just to take a few days off and let the muscle rebuild. oddly, mine seemed to also be affected by which position I slept in at night.
a few days' rest and a conscious effort to spin more and push less, and they haven't bothered me at all lately.

Just a few ideas from the (subatomic) peanut gallery, hope you get better and get out there soon.

Wahoonc: wow, I never thought someone else would copy my sig. I take it you like steel frames?
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Old 07-31-06, 06:27 PM   #22
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Wahoonc: wow, I never thought someone else would copy my sig. I take it you like steel frames?
Steel is Real! I have ridden about everything out there at one time or another and I keep coming back to the steel. I have owned Reynolds 531 road and touring frames, Teledyne Titans, Alan Carbons and 'dales and still keep coming back to the steel. One of these days I may even learn how to build one...

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Old 07-31-06, 06:52 PM   #23
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Yes, it is a truly "magic" age. If I want to remove a spinter from my finger, too bad because if I put my finger up close I can't see anything, but if I put it far away, I can't see the splinter. People stick stuff in your face and ask you to read it so you have to take a giant step back to oblige them.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure the hysterectomy the other year did me in as far as the hormone thing, even though I still have all the other hormone-producing items inside.

But what I don't quite get is I can remember myself in a steady stream all the way back to age 3 or 4 and I'm pretty sure I'm pretty much the same person, just know a few more things than I did back then. So, if I'm the same exact person I was when I was 30, and when I was 25 and when I was 17 and when I was 4, who is this old person I'm inside of?
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Old 07-31-06, 08:51 PM   #24
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Slightly off topic...if your interested in improving close up vision...I guess I can couch this as..."these eye exercises will help you read your spedometer while pedaling..."

http://www.i-see.org/gottlieb/presbyopia_chart.pdf

I used these exercises afte lasik surgury. It's not magic but you'll be able to see about 90% of the close up stuff. Yes, you'll have to redo the eye exercise from periodically...otherwise...maybe go buy reading glasses.
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Old 07-31-06, 09:16 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
Even eating healthy, I still find that my cuts and scrapes don't heal as quickly as I'd like. I do a bit of rockclimbing, and tend to get a little banged up while out at the crags. I've got (what I thought was) a minor scrape on my shin that just refuses to go away, even with Neosporin, etc. it still looks like it's going to scar up a little bit.
Anyone else have this issue? Should I just chalk it up to the fact that I'm not 19 any more?
I don't know, when I was about 21 a similar thing just happened to me. Every little scrape would take forever to heal and leave a scar. I was seriously alarmed actually. The problem stuck around for a couple of years, and then gradually disappeared. I don't know what caused it to appear and then to go away. *shrugs* But wasn't age-related, that's for sure.
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