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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 09-30-07, 12:25 PM   #1
4am
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Does it get much easier?

Hi guys -

I've been commuting about 12-15 miles a day for 3 weeks. I'm in poor shape. My legs burn, my butt hurts, my wrists hurt...

Will this get much better as I ride more?

Thanks!
-Heather
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Old 09-30-07, 12:29 PM   #2
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Keep at it Heather, getting out of the house is the hard part. Your body will adjust as the days go by.
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Old 09-30-07, 12:34 PM   #3
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It will get better. Your wrists should not hurt though. That could be something that a handlebar change could help with. Also if your rear is hurting, could be that your seat is too narrow, or that there is too much friction. Of course when you first start it could just be your muscles adjusting to new the demands.
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Old 09-30-07, 12:46 PM   #4
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If you've not done such distances daily before, it's not too surprising that you're having some acclimatisation pains.

Can I suggest that you take your bike to the nearest decent LBS to have your position and saddle checked. If they're a good shop, they'll let you try out different saddles, particularly women-specific design ones.

You might also want to log on to the women cyclists' forum for more knowledgeable advice from other women riders. They'll be able to recommend suitable shorts, something those of us with different anatomical structures are not qualified to advise on.

But, you will improve as you get used to the daily ride and your fitness improves. In a month or two you'll be seriously pleased at your new fitness levels.

Good luck
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Old 09-30-07, 12:52 PM   #5
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It never gets easier, you just go faster -G Lemond

But yes it does get easier. You may need fit adjustments, better clothing, more time to acclimate to the increased exercise, etc.
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Old 09-30-07, 01:08 PM   #6
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The usual progression is :
Pain, why am I dong this ? ----------->Hey, this is easy ! ------------->I NEED MY COMMUTE !!!
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Old 09-30-07, 01:23 PM   #7
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Definitely gets easier. The bad leg burn lasted a couple of weeks for me, after which your legs just gradually get stronger.

To echo other responses, you definitely shouldn't have sore wrists. In fact, you shouldn't put enough weight on them to make them sore. Could be seat that's too high or bar that's too low.
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Old 09-30-07, 01:23 PM   #8
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The pain in the wrists really seems like a bar or bar position issue... having the bar above the saddle really does help to take the weight off your wrists and arms and makes for a much more comfortable ride.

A sore butt could be from being out of shape but could also be due to a poor saddle or an improperly set up bike... quite often the saddle height is too low which can cause pain in the legs as you aren't able to get a full extension when you pedal.

It's hard to set up a bike without seeing the person on the bike so going to a good LBS is the best option.
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Old 09-30-07, 01:39 PM   #9
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If you've got pain every day...something needs to change. To go cold turkey (from 0 miles to 15mi/day) is huge. If you're not already doing this, I'd suggest:

* As you feel your legs start to burn, slow down for about 2 minutes, then resume
* Eat 200 calories right after you get off the bike.
* If still pain, drop down to every other day so your body can recover

This is fresh in my mind cuz I do a 17mi/day commute- 5 years...I'm just coming back online from an 2 mo knee cap bone injury. Finding that riding every other day is working well. 2 weeks ago, I rode 6mi each way. Last week, 11mi each way. Because my heart is racing upon arrival, this week, it's 15mi each way (again every other day). When I get to the full trip... no aching, heart racing, I 'll back fill the other days.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-30-07, 01:42 PM   #10
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Thanks, Guys. I just had my derailleurs and breaks adjusted at the LBS. I'll be going back soon for a fit consultation.

Thanks for the encourangement.
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Old 09-30-07, 07:44 PM   #11
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Don't forget to use your gears . . .

Maybe you're using the gears effectively already, but that's a factor in the leg burn, too. Don't hesitate to use an easier gear when you need one, and don't wait until the pedaling is hard before you shift gears. You'll wear out real fast if you use too high of a gear.
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Old 09-30-07, 07:59 PM   #12
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It will, don't overdo it too early or you will simply injure yourself.
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Old 09-30-07, 08:30 PM   #13
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Heather -

the rest of the stuff here is good ... proper fit, gear technique, etc ... all important.

but may i also suggest just taking a break from riding? when i first started riding everyday my legs hurt constantly about three-four weeks in. (and by hurt constantly, i mean on and off the bike. on=legs got tired faster, just starting the ride they took longer to warm up, etc. off=well, i went through a canister of tiger balm in 2 weeks if that tells you anything) i had even been riding for quite a while (just not everyday), and for some pretty good distances ... it was just the daily riding with no break that got to me. I'm not sure about your situation, but going from 0 to 12 miles a day can take a toll on those muscles.

[edit] ... oh and one more thing ... it does get easier.
another edit ... i just read vrkelly's response .... listen to him/her
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Old 09-30-07, 09:33 PM   #14
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It does get easier as your body adjusts to the new workload... the ride that frags you now will soon feel like nothing more than a warmup and you'll find yourself wanting more.
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Old 09-30-07, 09:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4am View Post
Hi guys -

I've been commuting about 12-15 miles a day for 3 weeks. I'm in poor shape. My legs burn, my butt hurts, my wrists hurt...

Will this get much better as I ride more?

Thanks!
-Heather
leg burn will go away soon, butt hurting might go away but it might me casued by a saddle that isn't "you" if you know what i mean, the wrists might be caused by how much weight you put onto them when riding. do you mind me asking if you are overweight? i am so don't be ashamed, theres even a whole sub forum ford Clydes?
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Old 09-30-07, 09:59 PM   #16
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I agree that saddle position and fit is critical. If your saddles is causing you pain, then you may be putting too much weight on your wrist. Causing the wrist pain that you're experiencing.
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Old 09-30-07, 11:35 PM   #17
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12-15 miles = 20-25km = quite a bit for starting out, probably 45min each way? Not surprising that you're tired and sore. Make sure you get your rest as well as you exercise, just imagine, you're doing 10 gym sessions per week!

My suggestions (same as everyone else!):

(1) Check bike fit, saddle, drive train (chain clean, brakes not rubbing) and get 1-2 rest days per week; eat enough and drink enough.
(2) If that is taken care of, things will get easier after 6 weeks or so, then you will probably plateau. By this stage you should be reasonably comfortable and able to complete your commute with enough energy to get through the day and home again. If you cycle for transport only, you should now be fine.
(3) If at that stage you want to improve fitness/speed/distance then check (1) above, if still OK do some focussed training.

Stick with it, maybe take a rest day or two in the middle of the week if you have alternative transport available. When I was doing my "long" commute I got really worn out if I did it more than 3x/week.
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Old 09-30-07, 11:42 PM   #18
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It gets easier, then it gets addictive, and after a couple of years people start forgetting you have a car at all. A few more years, and your wife/spouse thinks it's perfectly okay to sell your car because you haven't driven it to work regularly in the last 4 years and not much AT ALL in the last year.

Oh, wait... that was me.
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Old 10-01-07, 12:28 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by 4am View Post
Hi guys -

I've been commuting about 12-15 miles a day for 3 weeks. I'm in poor shape. My legs burn, my butt hurts, my wrists hurt...

Will this get much better as I ride more?

Thanks!
-Heather
New seat, padded gloves, get fitted to the bike.
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Old 10-01-07, 06:36 AM   #20
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Hey,

I was in the same boat about a year ago.
For the Butt: Drop some dough on some good shorts. This makes a huge difference. For chaffing get some Dessiden(sp?).
For the Legs: get an energy drink before your ride and when you get to where you are going. There are also some sports supplements out there that help with sore legs.
Wrists: Good gloves and bars that are at a naturla angle for your wrists.
Remember to rest. In the begining I forgot to rest and almost burnt out on the whole commuting thing. Good thing I didnt because it is now the best part of the day 4 days a week.

Good luck

B
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Old 10-01-07, 06:42 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by gtdroadie View Post
Maybe you're using the gears effectively already, but that's a factor in the leg burn, too. Don't hesitate to use an easier gear when you need one, and don't wait until the pedaling is hard before you shift gears. You'll wear out real fast if you use too high of a gear.
Oh, that's a good point too. Beginners almost always use waaaaay too high of a gear. Not only will that tire you out and make your legs burn, but it can also hurt you (especially knees, possibly achilles).

I would say, if you're starting to ride and your legs burn but you're not much out of breath, your gear ratio is too high.

Use the granny gear!
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Old 10-01-07, 06:49 AM   #22
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is that 12 - 15 mi each way? Or 6+ and 6+?
Either way....
I am at the 5+/ 5+ mark and started because I just found in inconscionable to drive there (pretty route, too)... huffed at first (and got a new bike... that I now consider my mid-life convertible!) and now wish my commute was longer! No kidding. All the advice here is good. I have found bike forum both fun and really helpful on every issue I've had. Something very pleasantly addictive about this. Congratulations on making the shift. And be careful to and fro.
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Old 10-01-07, 07:09 AM   #23
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What I experienced was leg burn when walking up and down the stairs. Walking on flat surfaces didn't seem to have the burn. However, I work in the basement at my office so I went up and down the stairs a lot. After a few months I no longer experienced the burn. So yeah, I'd say it will get better. Maybe taking a break is a good idea, I don't know. I just kept riding anyhow and it eventually went away.
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Old 10-01-07, 07:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
It never gets easier, you just go faster -G Lemond
+1

for some folks, like myself, this is really the case. it never gets any easier, i just spin a higher gear.
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Old 10-01-07, 08:57 AM   #25
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When I first started commuting, I remember it was the first 3 weeks that sucked. Then from week 4 it started getting easier and easier.
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